Hey!!!! It’s been awhile, I hope you’re having the best day ever whenever this finds you. I’ve stopped forcing myself to post and putting pressure on it, so this blog just thrives whenever I have something to say and boy do I have something to talk to you guys about today. This is long, I’ll warn you now, but it’s also a very easy and needed read. so please stick around. Theres about 3 different sections and a challenge at the end!! I’ve tried to think about good ways to open and how I wanted to start this, but I think we need to just jump right in.
1. The Social Dilemma, what is it?
The Social Dilemma is a documentary on Netflix by Jeff Orlowski that explores the impact social media is having and will continue to have on us and generations to come. This documentary really shocked me and made me really intrigued about the things they talked about. Everything that was said was topics of conversation that NEED to be discussed. The Social Dilemma is more than just a documentary, it’s a wake up call we need.
In this documentary they interviewed several tech experts such as
-the Senior Vice President of Engineering for Twitter
-the ex President of Pinterest and Director of Monetization for Facebook
-the Co-Inventor of the Facebook like button and Google Drive, etc.
SO MANY EXPERTS, the CREATORS of these things we use everyday.
I think that thats the reason I find this so alarming and such an interesting topic to discuss is because it isn’t just random people that have had a hard time with social media telling us these things, it is literally the creators and the insiders trying to shake us awake from the dystopia we are spiraling into. They don’t even let their own kids use these apps and most all of them have turned off notifications on their phones completely or deleted apps as a whole. Aza Raskin, a former Firefox and Mozilla employee/Cofounder of the Center for Humane Technology, said “I had to write myself software to break my addiction to reading Reddit.” He had to write himself his own SOFTWARE to stop him from scrolling on social media for too long…
2. So, what’s the problem?
Several of the experts on the documentary left their place of business (Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc) due to ethical concerns. One of the issues is that social media is so addicting and these big companies KNOW this and are using it to their advantage to get us more addicted so they make more money instead of taking control and regulating content.
“If something is a tool, it’s just sitting there patiently waiting, ready to be used…if it is not a tool than it’s demanding something from you, manipulating you, messing with your emotions, etc…we’ve moved from a tool based technology environment to an addiction and manipulation based technology environment.” -Tristan Harris, co inventor of Center for Humane Technology
Thats the problem. We have stopped using social media and technology as a tool and more so as an escape route, a crutch when we feel uncomfortable or sad or anxious when in return leaves us feeling worse. Companies use manipulation to get us to spend time on our phones.
And I bet you’re like “You’re overreacting” “I’m not that controlled” “I don’t even go on social media that often”
And I’m not saying we need to stop it all together, social media is a GOOD thing. What isn’t good is how much time we spend on it and the fact that big companies know this and use it to their advantage and the worst part, there are no laws or regulations on digital privacy. Companies have an ENORMOUS amount of data on us so that they can be manipulative. The way they predict things for us is by having a ton of data.
Companies like Google, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. make money from advertisers paying them to put their ads up. The longer we look at ads the more money the companies make. All they want is our time and attention. The way they keep us on our screens is by manipulation. They do this by subliminal messages on social media that change the way we think little by little.
(If you don’t know what subliminal messages are then look it up!! It’s crazy..Companies can flash an image on a screen and we won’t even catch it, but our subconscious will so it gets us thinking about certain things without us even knowing it’s happening.)
You know those sponsored ads that are always exactly what you were JUST talking about??? It’s because these companies have giant servers that have separate, individual models for each and every person that predicts your future actions (YES, look it up). Every single click we’ve ever made, video we’ve liked, comment we’ve posted, app we’ve downloaded, etc. is stored in these models that are made to predict what will keep you on your phone.
You like videos about dogs? Your phone is going to suggest and recommend dog videos that will send you down a rabbit hole of watching videos so that ads can play on your screen for as long as you allow.
3. What’s wrong with this?
So, you might be like? Okay? I knew this..We’re addicted to social media and they collect data on us. So what?
“We evolved to care whether other people in our tribe think well of us or not, because well, it matters. But were we evolved to be aware of what 10,000 people think of us? We were not evolved to have social approval being dosed to us every 5 minutes.” -Tristan Harris
This is ruining society. You might think that is a little extreme, but hear me out.
“We get rewarded with likes and we conflate that with value and truth when in reality it’s fake, brittle popularity thats short term that leaves you vacant and empty, even more so than you were before. Then you get in this vicious cycle of “What’s next? What do I need to do now? Cause I need it back.” -President of Growth at Facebook
This is hurting younger generations. At one point in the documentary Dr. Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at NYU, said that there has been a HUGE increase in depression and anxiety in American teens from 2011-2013. This is the part of the documentary that really just hit me where it hurt. This was shocking and needs to be talked about and brought awareness to.
“Social Media digs deep into our brain stem and takes over kids idea of self worth and identity” -Dr. Haidt
The number of teen girls out of 100,000 in the US who were admitted to a hospital every year for self harm was stable until around 2010-2011, around the time social media came out, it shot up. In girls 15-19 years old it’s gone up 62% and from ages 10-14 it’s gone up 189%….ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY NINE percent…….that number didn’t go up by half, didn’t double, it almost TRIPLED. And the same thing with suicide, 15-19 year olds went up by 70% and young girls 10-14 went up 151%.
I’m sorry, but WHAT. 10-14 year olds?? And all of the data points to the rise being from social media. So, young girls are being pushed to the point of them not wanting to even wake up another day because of comparison and standards of social media being too much to bear…When in reality, in the REAL world, none of that matters. This hurts me. This can’t keep happening. We HAVE to teach each other and remind each other that what is displayed on social media is not real life. It distracts you and manipulates you if you let it. We can’t keep having generations seeking validation from social media, we can’t keep putting that much emphasis into it because it isn’t going to go away and it is our responsibility.
The documentary stated that Gen Z as a whole generation is more fragile, depressed, anxious, and less likely to take risks due to social media. Online connection with younger generations is primary, they’d rather text than call, they usually always have a third party when making connections, their culture is rooted in manipulation. Isn’t it our responsibility to bring awareness to this? To teach people that social media is a place to be used as a tool and not somewhere for pure entertainment.
So many places are competing and demanding our attention and its all happening without us even thinking/knowing about it. These systems control what notifications we see thus controlling our actions.
These algorithms that keep us scrolling also keep us separated and polarized. We only see viewpoints of people we follow and its usually people we agree with. This makes us think that everyone in the world thinks the same way we think which in turn makes us redundant to change and less likely to accept others viewpoints. One woman in the documentary said she follows people that have opposite viewpoints as her on purpose so that she can see different sides of things. Social media companies try to separate us and create divide.
“It’s not about technology being an existential threat, but the ability for it to bring out the worst in society and that will create a threat. It can lead to mass chaos, outrage, instability, lack of trust in each other, loneliness, alienation, more distraction, and inability to focus on real life issues. It could lead to society incapable of healing itself.”
So…in conclusion, I’ve just scratched the surface level of all this & I’m not saying delete all your social media and stop scrolling, but I am saying we need to be more aware of how we are using it and what we are allowing.
It’s up to us to preserve our humanity. It sounds dramatic, but it’s at that point. Look around you. Let’s be the change.
If you read all of this, THANK YOU, now go watch the Social Dilemma and let me know what you thought.
I want to challenge any of you that read this far. I want to challenge you to do at least one of these things or all, whatever you feel you need. Since September is suicide prevention month and to challenge big companies that only care if were zombies I want to challenge you guys to
- turn off all notifications on your phone (this helps us fight big companies)
- unfollow anyone and everyone that leaves you feeling ANY type of negative way about yourself (this helps your mental health and ads appearing on your feed from random people you don’t even know)
- ONLY post things that would benefit others for the rest of the month and when you do post, use the hashtag #kyllemwithkindness (this is to promote positivity and so I can see and share!! <3)
- Share this post with 3 friends to let them be aware of social media and the harms it can cause without us even knowing!! (and then tell them you love them) (lets spread awareness)
- Go watch the Social Dilemma and share it with your friends ❤
I love yall!!! Let’s be aware of what we’re doing and lets make positive change happen, its our responsibility.
Source: The Social Dilemma