IMDb Rating: 8/10
PG-13 | 1h 34min | Documentary, Drama | 09 Sep 2020 (Argentina) | Movie
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 90% Fresh (Critics), 84% Fresh (Audiences)
Director: Jeff Orlowski
Writer: Celyn Jones, Joe Bone
Stars: Tristan Harris, Jeff Seibert, Bailey Richardson
IMDb summary: Explores the dangerous human impact of social networking, with tech experts sounding the alarm on their own creations.
THIS REVIEW IS NOT SPOILER FREE
I’m going to come right out and say that you know something’s not right when the description for the film uses the word “dangerous”. And that’s the whole deal right there – the entire point of this film is to show you and explain that using social media and becoming a slave to your online behaviour can be dangerous.
But let’s be honest here – how many people are going to stop using social media because they saw a movie about a whole lot of wealthy, privileged mostly white people saying social media is bad for you. And yes, it definitely carries some gravitas when those very people who are warning you are the ones who helped to code the algorithms that all the social media apps use today. The very same algorithms that they claim will cause you all sorts of harm if you keep feeding them with your attention.
So it surprised me a lot that there weren’t more teenagers involved in the interviews that they conducted because the majority of the statistics they used were all focused on teenagers. Those demographics are the ones that are hit worst of all because young people are so impressionable and easily manipulated.
The parts of the film where they had actors playing out typical scenarios in most households in the United States (and probably everywhere else for that matter) were terrific. The scene with the teenage girl who was mocked and made fun of on social media because of her ears – that was heartbreaking. And it’s even more alarming because it’s a whole lot worse than that online – especially if you’re a teenage female looking for approval. And let’s face it, who isn’t looking for approval these days? I know I am, and I get it exactly the same way that everyone else does – online.
In my household, it is a little harder to get away from using online devices since we work in an industry that relies on online interconnectivity. But we have a rule we never break which is at 8:00PM every night we turn everything off and focus on one of our favourite things to do together; you can probably guess since we are movie freaks, but yeah, we watch movies. We do this every day because that is what we enjoy. We do not use any devices other than our smart TV, which is purely an output device. We are entirely switched off to the online world. And I did not truly understand the importance of this practice until watching this film.
It was horrifying to watch one of the many tech gurus that appear in the film admit that he was suffering from social media overload. And his thing was Pinterest. He said he had to physically fight the urge not to check his Pinterest account. Now that IS scary stuff.
Many of the people interviewed for the film were all ex-employees of some of the largest companies on the planet including Facebook, Instagram and Google. When these extremely credible people are telling you that you are becoming addicted to social media because that is the way social media is designed, it’s quite sobering. We are essentially social media junkies addicted to our online fix of dopamine daily.
If nothing else, The Social Dilemma will undoubtedly make you re-evaluate how you spend your time. But since the essence of the problem deals with a chemical reaction going on inside of us, I doubt very much that it’s going to actually curb people’s usage entirely. But it might make you sit up and think, and that is all we ever expect from a well-written, produced and executed docudrama.
So, what will you be doing tonight?
Let us know what you think of this review or this topic in general in the comments, and we’ll catch you in tomorrow’s post!
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Freelance entertainment writer and reviewer. Visit my blog on https://thebrokenquill.com.