As we’re today in a society with highly advanced technology, different social media platforms have greatly blended into our lives, becoming an inseparable part of our daily routines. In the documentary film The Social Dilemma, the harm that the internet is bringing to us is addressed and magnified to spread awareness towards this issue. Personally, as a frequent social media user, I have never noticed so, and I experienced quite an epiphany about the dark secrets of these apps I use daily.
Social media is like a drug. They are designed to be addictive, and companies are not concerned with the well-being of their users. An essential quote from the film was that “there are only two industries that call their customers ‘users,’ illegal drugs and software.” The software modifies one’s behavior, and the software’s way of grabbing for attention is entirely based on psychological effects, thus it is inescapable for anyone – it is designed that way to lure you in. Just as stated in the film, it is easy to be lured into social media apps because it leads you to click. The ultimate aim of any internet platform is to get your attention, because all of these companies are profit-seeking, and thus keeping users to keep using the app will help you view more ads and therefore gain the company more profitable.
There was also a lot of information pointed out in the documentary that I especially agreed upon and resonated with. What really gave me a deep impression was the example of a news show, “Can you get the coronavirus by eating Chinese food.” This statement is preposterous, yet it does appear on an official news site, which is very concerning. As the internet grows to be more convenient, anyone can publish any kind of knowledge that they possess, though the quality of this information has greatly decreased from decades ago back when the news was still delivered through newspaper and user comments were less accessible. Therefore, it is essential to be viewing all knowledge found on the internet with a critical mind. Therefore, we should always be critical about what we view and not fall into the trap that internet companies are setting. These software companies’ goal isn’t to take over the world by manipulating our thoughts, but because their goal is to make money through ad views, our thoughts are manipulated. Different users are provided with different information just to limit their individual thinking and keep them within their comfortable space and keep scrolling.
As a Gen-Z, I do feel that I am at great risk of harm, as today’s teenagers are mostly affected due to their early exposure to technology. One can easily fall into that rabbit hole, and as a teenager, I may not have great self-control abilities, thus I am more vulnerable to have my opinions are easier to be manipulated. However, I do think that reasonable and sensible use of technology will bring benefits to society. As a civilian of the modern world, I cannot completely avoid the use of technology, but as a TOK student, I am driven to hold a critical attitude towards the information I receive. Just as my peer stated, he follows a variety of news companies to receive information from multiple different perspectives. Any software platform may hold a bias towards a subject matter, so to be able to see issues in the bigger perspective, a solution to this social dilemma perhaps is to think in a critical way and receive objective knowledge before reaching a personal opinion too quickly.