Looking for a Movie to watch over Trinity Days? Try The Social Dilemma

4 min read

Olivia Papp ’23

Features Editor

Emma McGraw ’23

Contributing Writer

The Social Dilemma, directed by Jeff Orlowski, is a documentary that brings to light the dangers of social media and its ability to capture and hold the attention of its users against their will. If you are looking to relax on the couch and have a movie marathon, consider watching this documentary. The statistics and skits are chilling, but it is important to be educated and aware about topics surrounding the negative impacts of technology so we can perhaps, as a collective society, improve our poor habits.  

Tech companies have developed algorithms to predict our next moves, engage our attention, and keep us coming back. The documentary utilizes professional tech experts who worked for social media companies, many of whom helped to develop the algorithms that compete for our attention. Throughout the documentary, Orlowski uses skits to successfully emphasize the negative impacts that social media has on mental health, addiction, and the alarming impact of filter bubbles.  

One of the topics the movie focuses on is social media’s negative impact on mental health, especially in young girls. Orlowski uses a skit of a family with a teenage girl who is addicted to social media. One scene begins with a teenage girl posting a photo only to delete it because it didn’t get enough likes. She then reposts the photo with dramatic filters and effects that get her more comments and likes. The unrealistic standards that social media sets for young girls and teenagers directly affects mental health. The idea that teenagers’ attention is focused more on likes and comments, emphasizes people’s selective attention to moments and photos that will get them more likes. Social media throughout this scene the dramatic ways in which social media is taking over our attention and consequently leading to more mental health issues in society.  

Another skit in the documentary is centered around the addiction which teenagers have with social media. Ben, a teenage boy, had a crush on a girl named Rebecca, however, when she finally asked if he wanted to get lunch, he had already fallen victim to the addictive effects of social media. Unable to even look up from his phone he didn’t even hear what she had asked him. Orlowski additionally backs this up when Ben was unable to go two weeks without his phone. Despite his determination to go out with Rebecca at the beginning of his story or his want to unplug for two weeks, Ben’s attention was fully focused on the world within his phone. This specific skit is very relatable to many teenagers today. Even when many do not want to focus on their phone, they have an almost hypnotizing pull that keeps them engaged and distant from things going on around them.  

Another point which is crucial to the movie is shown through Orlowski’s successful display of the alarming effects that fake news and filter bubbles have on people. The documentary emphasizes the black hole aspect of filter bubbles and their ability to isolate and consume us with one topic of information. During the skit, a character ends up at an overwhelming protest after spending nights awake on his phone. At the protest, the teenager ends up being pinned to the ground and almost getting arrested due to the isolated emphasis on this topic his feeds kept showing him. While this example was very exaggerated it led to a stronger point being made by Orlowski on how dangerous and convincing filter bubbles can be. Orlowski also brings up the statistic that fake news spreads six times faster than real news.  

Overall, Orlowski effectively integrated the use of skits to show why social media is negatively impacting society, particularly young people. Orlowski was able to brilliantly take concepts that everyone is aware of and make them more.  

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