Have you seen Netflix’s latest offering, the shock-and-awe docudrama ‘The Social Dilemma’? If you haven’t, you’ve probably been missing out. Viewers everywhere have—ironically—taken to social media to proclaim this film ‘unmissable.’ The Social Dilemma turns over the proverbial rock of social media, uncovering the insects that live beneath it.
Who’s Shaping Your Reality?
It’s not exactly an earth-shattering revelation to say that social media is an invasive tool that permeates every aspect of our lives. It’s probably not even that surprising to say that social media mavens track our information, lending and borrowing as they see fit. But what The Social Dilemma reveals is the true perniciousness with which social media invades and entraps its users.
It turns out that the addictive qualities of technology and social media isn’t exactly a glitch of the system; it’s a built-in feature.
According to the documentary, it’s all about keeping users active and engaged. The more they scroll, click, like, and share, the more deeply entangled they become in the social media web. In doing so, they make themselves easy prey for data miners and psychological manipulators, the ones who are looking to turn a profit or sell an idea. These manipulators don’t just predict a user’s future behaviors, but they can shape them as well.
It’s true, and none of us are exempt. This level of social media integration into our lives, paired with an inability to distinguish between the content we seek and that which seeks us, makes us all highly susceptible to a skewed version of reality.
Enter Fake News
The political underpinnings of the last four years have made ‘fake news’ a common household phrase. And whether or not you believe President Trump’s battle cry, the fact of the matter is that the internet is a breeding ground for misinformation of all kinds.
According to Forbes, social media users are more likely to believe misinformation. With all the time we spend scrolling and swiping through these goldmines of content, social media platforms can become our news outlets of choice. Reading news articles on social isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. But, if we view sites like Facebook as legitimate news sources and use them to obtain most of our information, we risk falling for falsehoods and conspiracies.
You don’t have to look far to realize that social media is a pit of unverified tidbits posing as legitimate news. There’s misinformation spread about everything from the coronavirus to deep state conspiracies, miracle diets, insane fads, and religious extremism.
In a country built on foundations of truth and democracy, misinformation spread to the masses is unhelpful and often dangerous. And unfortunately, social media is full of it. Not only is screen time mind-numbing and time-consuming, but it could also compromise your personal information and the integrity of your very identity.
Even though social media is a boon in many ways, it may also prove detrimental to our personal and societal wellbeing. If you find yourself a little too tuned in to social media these days, it may be time to tap out.