We are the Social Dilemma

2020 was a wild year. If we weren’t already freaked out enough with COVID sending everyone home from schools and most of the planet locking down, at least we had our digital devices to enjoy and keep us entertained. Some people were about to get a little more freaked out.

The Social Dilemma¬†film came out and made a lot of people more aware of what was going on behind the scenes when it comes to social media. First off Web 2.0 (the social web) has absolutely exploded over the years. You are hard pressed to find someone over the age of 12 in this day and age that doesn’t have some form of social media. I was 12 when I got Facebook, but I had been connecting digitally with people all over the world since the age of 7 with the classic video game RuneScape. I’ve been looking for an opportunity to name drop his game at some point in this EdTech course. Besides the point, The majority of the modern world is connected digitally and interact socially through the web. This is fantastic. Families can stay in touch, new friends can be made, people find love, and some people even find purpose in this life after seeing something on social media.

Are there negatives? Of course. Family can be blocked. Revengeful photos can be shared. Hate can be spread. Scams can be utilized on unsuspecting Grannies. C’mon, Grandma. Why would the CRA want $30,000 in Red Lobster gift cards? Ultimately, yes there is bad and good that comes with social media.

Where The¬†Social Dilemma¬†comes in brings a new light of negativity though. See this blogpost/website for some of the key takeaways if you haven’t seen it. Where the negativity of this movie comes is exposing how the users of social media are they themselves a product and a lot of the content we now see is specially tailored to us in hopes of influencing us to buy certain products, act certain ways, and even believe certain things.

A way I often use to describe this is how a piece of garbage like AT (I’m not going to even write out his name) can be so popular. Well, it’s because of social media and the algorithms discussed in the movie. One video pops up for a child (In this specific case, usually young males) they click on it, the system sees they interacted with it and keeps feeding it to the viewer and people like the viewer’s demographic. This is also discussed here about how AT has spread among young men. Again, this is do to the social web.

This has made AT rather wealthy and the same thing has happened to many different influencers and companies whose products are also shown. We learned during my presentation a few weeks back that google makes most of its money from advertising. Google shows products to users based on their browsing history. These social media algorithms work similarly. Large companies want this data so that they can see what is popular and tailor new products, messages, etc to people.

For instance in my own life, I once clicked on a wild far-right wing X (formerly Twitter post) and I get so many crazy things shown on my timeline that are very opposite of the views I have. Most of our social medias are like vacuums. We are very much stuck with the things we like, which can be good because we obviously agree with it, but it also shelters you from other points of views/thinking. I am in no way saying what happened to me on twitter is my way of saying, “wow they other side has some good points” I was more so in disbelief of what I was seeing and also know that some people’s timelines would look like this post multiplied by 1000. I’d really hate to see what that other vacuum looks like.

Whether we like it or not, we are directly targeted by companies. Heck were targeted by ideologies based on what I just wrote about. Crap, how did January 6th, when Trump supporters stormed The Capitol, get so much traction? Social media. On the other side how did police brutality and racism get even more exposure with the death of George Floyd? Social media. Both of these instances caused major real world demonstrations. Some with more positive messages then others. These two events existed almost a year apart. One instance showcased injustice and caused others to act in rage against that. One instance showcased a fair loss and caused others to act in rage against that. Social media has the power to spread info at rapid rates and has the power to influence others to take real world action, for good or bad.

We didn’t even touch upon how much money some companies make off the backs of our info. Social media has so many different facets now that one topic is such a winding rabbit hole. Who though it would become this?

On a more positive note. If you maybe want to see some change for the better in your own life, regarding social media. Here are a social media user’s thoughts on some things they can do better after watching The Social Dilemma.

One thought on “We are the Social Dilemma

  1. This was such an awesome post, Greg!
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and prompting us to reflect on our relationship with social media. Something I really haven’t considered, perhaps because I do not do much on social media. Shrug…

    Amidst the negativity, there’s a glimmer of hope for ours and our students’ futures. Awareness is the first step towards change, and your insights offer valuable perspectives on how individuals can take control of their social media usage. We need to be more mindful of our digital consumption and seek out diverse viewpoints to counteract the echo chambers.

    Thanks again! Bravo!

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