Let’s face it, COVID has us checking our social media accounts countless times a day. But if you realized that those same platforms were “using you” instead of you using them would you keep checking them?
Back in September, Netflix released the documentary The Social Dilemma, something that none of our precious social media companies probably want us to see. Why, you ask? Because once you’ve been exposed to this information you can’t unlearn it.
The Social Dilemma is a documentary-drama hybrid where experts explain the inner workings of social media engagement and marketing. To better get the manipulative message of social media across to viewers, the doc spotlights a family’s struggle to balance life and social media use.
In the heap of a pandemic that keeps us at home and cuddling with our devices, it’s a wonder this documentary hasn’t gained the uproar from teens it should’ve gotten by now.
The film was a lot to chew, but three of the biggest bites I took are:
“As humans we’ve almost lost control over these systems. Because they’re controlling the information that we see, they’re controlling us more than we’re controlling them.” -Sandy Parakilas, former Facebook operations manager
I know we joke about the algorithms all the time, but they’re real and companies are undoubtedly collecting information to keep us more and more engaged and interactive with our devices. It’s what they were designed to do. Every double tap, every comment, every hashtag associated with the pics you like is being collected into a database whose sole purpose is devouring your time.
“I’ve turned off notifications on anything that was vibrating my leg with information that wasn’t timely and important to me right now. It’s for the same reason I don’t keep cookies in my pocket.” – Justin Rosenstein, Former engineer for Facebook/Google
We control the amount of media that we consume. Even choosing the next YouTube video we watch instead of going through what’s recommended is a way to monitor and control the effect technology has on us. Remember that you are the consumer. Don’t let the product consume you.
“If something is a tool, it genuinely is just sitting there, waiting patiently…We’ve moved away from a tools based technology environment, to an addiction and manipulated used technology environment. Social media isn’t a tool waiting to be used. It has its own goals, and it has its own means of pursuing them by using your psychology against you.” -Tristan Harris, former design ethicist at Google
Think about the way that you interact with your phone. Do you feel that it’s more of a distraction and means of procrastination or a source of communications and endless connections. The relationships we grow to have with our individual technology isn’t permanent. We need to be conscious of our technical usage and keep in mind that it is there to enhance and assist our needs and not the other way around.
By Kelbe Nails, Junior, Whitney Young