Movie draws attention to the issue of social media

Sophia Sgourakis, Section Editor

It is no secret that society has a toxic obsession with social media. The new documentary on Netflix, “The Social Dilemma,” highlights the effects of this obsession by bringing in creators of social media for discussions about the fears they have of their own creations.
The main idea of this movie is that our brains are being manipulated and rewired by algorithms that are designed to get our attention and buy into distorted ideas. Social media is now designed to get us to stay on our phones for longer and longer at a time. By showing ads and people with similar passions, this is accomplished. This manipulation causes even more profit for the huge social media companies.
The documentary becomes even more effective with fictional scenes of a suburban family facing the effects of social media. There are a lot of quiet family dinners, a daughter with self-image issues, a son who questions ideologies, and a mother who does all she can to fight this addiction.
What’s different about this documentary on social media is that the experts or the interviewees, are the creators themselves of social media. They confess to their actions and are seen to be embarrassed of what they have caused and created. One of the interviews that stuck out to me was with Justin Rosenstein, the inventor of Facebook’s “like” button. He explains how he never saw anything wrong with being able to show your friends that you “like” their post. He now realizes that the “like” button can hurt people’s feelings if they don’t get enough.
One of the most important parts of “The Social Dilemma” was them discussing how the youth of Gen Z have been affected. There has been in spike in anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide attempts by young girls in this generation. It was even discussed in the documentary that some girls see plastic surgeons in order to get surgery to look like a snapchat filter, which has sparked a new clinical term called “Snapchat Dysmorphia.”
The film was overall well put together in a convincing manner. I myself was again warned about the effects of social media and the addiction it can bring. However, I can’t help but to ask, are we as a society too attached to social media to ever make beneficial changes? I want to stop going on social media and giving these corporations more money, but I am simply way too addicted to let myself do that. After watching the documentary, my family members all compared their screen times. My siblings and I all had an average daily screen time of at least 6 more hours than my parents, showing proof again that Gen Z is suffering with addiction to social media.
One of the creators said that the whole fundamental way that social media is designed needs to be changed. When asked if we will get there, he says, “We have to.” And that is the last sentence of the documentary. Other viewers and I are left with a sense of urgency to make a change to our society and how we view social media.