I watched the Social Dilemma on Netflix this past week. As a social media consultant, it was a must-watch simply to stay on top of the latest discussion going on. As someone who first used social media to connect with my friends in college and find out when we were all heading to the dining hall together, I love how social media connects us. As an American living in 2020, during the pandemic, racial conversations, and an election, I find my own struggles with the pitfalls of social media.
What is The Social Dilemma?
This docudrama is a criticism of the impact social media has had on our psychological health, community structure, perception of truth, and more. Former employees from some of the top social and digital giants in the world were interviewed for this show, giving us insights into what might have been the original intent, but now how these features have impacted our culture.
These are a few things that stuck out to me as I was watching. Please keep in mind that I do social media marketing for a living, so these things may be different from those who use it purely as a user.
- Social media is like playing a slot machine. Ouch! That one hit hard because I love the thrill of seeing if I got new engagement on posts just as much as the next person. I personally don’t gamble on slots, so why am I gambling my time to log in just to see if I got a new notification.
- Social media is designed to keep you on the platform. These platforms want you there as much as they can, and many of the features are designed to get your attention when you stray too far away.
- Social media channels are money makers. In many ways, these tech giants have to report to stockholders and have to generate revenue.
- While social media has a dark side to it, I’ve also experienced and witnessed a lot of really great things come out of the connection that happens here.
What You Can Do:
Should you go delete all of your social media profiles? Maybe… But, for many that’s not going to happen. BUT, you CAN be a smart user of these programs and as a member of our digital society, I think you should be. So, here are a few things you can do…
- Watch The Social Dilemma. Educate yourself as much as you can about how social media networks work.
- Go in with eyes wide open. If you’re going to use social media networks for personal use, know that your data is being used, know that you’re being influenced, and know that there are AI triggers working to keep you on the platform(s) as long as possible.
- Use the “unfollow” or “snooze” button. Especially in times where toxic tones are present on social media (aka election season), the healthiest thing might be to unfollow someone for a few months and then reevaluate.
- Be aware of emotional triggers. If something that is shared incites anger or outrage, consider that the source might not be sharing the full information or it might be simply fake news. Don’t let it rile you up.
- Don’t share fake news. Just don’t. When in doubt… don’t share it.
- Don’t watch the suggested content or click on suggested content. Always go do a specific search for what you want to see.
- Turn off notifications on your phone. Get in the habit of YOU choosing when you’ll look at and respond to notifications.
- Watch the credits of The Social Dilemma where those interviewed share their advice on simple things you can do.