The Social Dilemma: 11 Tips Offered by the Experts in the Netflix Documentary to Reduce Social Media’s Control Over Us

The Social Dilemma, the new docudrama on Netflix, has become a trending talking point among people. Many are suggesting their friends and followers, ironically on social media platforms, to watch it on the streaming platform. ‘Ironically’, because the docudrama highlights the dangers of the increasing influence of social media apps like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc and how it could lead to the doom of humanity one day. The Social Dilemma Review: Why You Should NOT Be Missing This Netflix Documentary That’s More of a Warning to Be Seriously Heeded.

Sounds morbid and gloomy? Well, keep your phones down and check the news. If all you see there is hatred, violence and propaganda being permeated around you, well, we are already in the middle of that road!

The Social Dilemma is directed by Jeff Orlowski, and written by Orlowski, Davis Coombe, and Vickie Curtis. It had premiered at the Sundance Film Festival 2020, and is streaming on Netflix since September 9. The docudrama is divided into two narratives.

There is the documentary part where tech experts and former employees of social media giants like Twitter, Facebook, Google, YouTube, Instagram etc talk about how these apps use digital surveillance and data mining to control your lives, even without you realising it. Some of the experts are Tristan Harris, Aza Raskin (both Center for Humane Technology co-founders), Justin Rosenstein (Asana co-founder, also Facebook’s like button co-creator), Shoshana Zuboff (Harvard University professor), Tim Kendall (former Pinterest president), Rashida Richardson (AI Now director of policy research), Jaron Lanier (virtual reality pioneer) among others.

There is the drama part, that’s the fictionalised narrative revolving around a typical middle-class American family, whose teenage kids are addicted to social media. The youngest daughter is Instagram obsessed, who suffers from mood fluctuations over the likes and comments on her pictures. The son, meanwhile, falls for videos of outrage and conspiracies leading to some very serious consequences. There is also a very Inside Out-inspired scenario, though darker and more frightening, involving triple roles of Mad Men‘s Vincent Kartheiser, as they control the boy’s social media schedule and activities.

Overall, The Social Dilemma is an alarming purview of how our lives are being constantly monitored and controlled without us realising that we are now being puppets of our phones. Even more alarming is the exploration of how these social media apps have managed to increase lies and hatred around us, made us turn against each other and allowed the higher powers to topple democracies.

While the experts suggest that we are heading to a very bleak future, there is still some ways to wrest our lives back from the grasp of social media giants. When the end-credits roll, these experts offer some very simple and practical tips to help loosen that grasp from your lives. Here are 11 such tips:

#1 Recognise The Problem

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Dr Anna Lembke, Medical Director of Addiction Medicine, says, “I am optimistic that we are going to figure it (solution) out. But I think it is going to take a long time. Because not everybody recognises that it is a problem.

#2 Create Massive Public Pressure

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Bailey Richardson, part of Instagram’s early team, adds “I think one of the big failures of the technology today is the real failure of leadership.” She says people aren’t coming out and having open conversations on things that aren’t just perfect. If such conversations happens, someone could come in and build something new. Tristan adds that, at the end of the day, this machine isn’t going to turn around, until there is massive public pressure, put on the governments to take control of the situation. Justin Rosenstein says the opinions need to be voiced, even through the very same technologies that needs to be voiced against.

#3 Uninstall Apps That You Don’t Use

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Rosenstein also added that it is better to uninstall needless apps from your phone. He himself has uninstalled the social media apps, news apps and others. If that doesn’t work for you, then…

#4 Turn Off Notifications

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…turn off notifications so that you really don’t want to check out your phone every moment it vibrates or pings.

#5 Use Browsers That Don’t Store Search History

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Guillaume Chaslot, Former Engineer in YouTube and CEO of Intuitive AI, prefers to use Qwant instead of Google Chrome, as the former doesn’t store search history (which, when happens, allows browsers like Chrome to track you). ‘The Social Dilemma’ on Netflix Which Talks About Evils of Social Media Has Impressed Netizens So Much That They Cannot Stop Recommending it… on Social Media!

#6 Don’t Go For Recommendations, Always Choose

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Jaron Lanier, the Founding Father of Virtual Reality Computer Scientist, suggests never go for YouTube recommendations, as not doing so allows it to take control over your preferences. Instead the decision to choose what to watch should always be on the user. As for Chrome, Chaslot added there are many extensions that help in removing recommendations.

#7 Do That Extra Google

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Fake News is a huge concern for netizens (and even others) right now, so it is necessary to make sure what you are reading is right. As per Renee Diresta, technical research manager at Stanford Internet Observatory, she advises to fact-check the news, by considering the source where the news came from and always ‘do that extra Google’ when it comes to verifying the news. Especially if the particular news is supposed to push your emotional buttons, and since you got it from your feed, it probably is.

#8 Avoid Clickbaits

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Explaining how Clickbait websites and stories with such headlines work, Rosenstein says, “Essentially, you vote with your clicks. If you click on clickbait, you’re creating a financial incentive that perpetuates this existing system.”

#9 Follow People With Opinions Different From You

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Another way to avoid getting influenced by fake news, is to follow people on social media who has a different opinion from you. This is something Cathy O’Neil, Data Scientist, suggests, as she follows people with opinions she disagree with on Twitter, so that she can have different angles for the same news.

#10 Keep Kids Away From Social Media 

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Nearly everyone suggested that kids and teengers, who are of impressionable age, should be kept away from social media. In fact, they should be kept away from smartphones itself. They mention that even the top honchos of social media apps don’t let their kids use them.

#11 Get Out of the System!

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Nearly all the ideas mentioned above are confined with using a smartphone, which has now been ingrained in our lives deeply. But if you find it difficult to follow any of the above tips but want to keep your life away from digital surveillance, then Lanier has a suggestion for you. He suggests you to delete all the social media apps and get it out of your system. For there is a beautiful world waiting for you outside!

(The above story first appeared on Report Door on Sep 14, 2020 09:04 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website

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