The Dark Side of Social Media, Explained by the People Who Created Itπ
You are what you Google and “like.” This is an eerie truism of 21st-century life, where our experience of reality is largely mediated by a nexus of algorithms and online platforms that are engineered to manipulate our psychology. In less than two decades, the world has witnessed the positive applications of social media—from its crucial role as a mobilization tool for protesters during the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings to the current Black Lives Matter movement—as well as its opposite extremes, as systems that polarize and divide us. The Social Dilemma, a new docu-drama premiering on Sept. 9 on Netflix, delves into the dangerous human impact that social networking has on society. Silicon Valley insiders behind Facebook, Pinterest, Google, Twitter, Instagram, and other omnipresent platforms explain the dark inner workings of social media, and how it strategically pits psychology against users in order to keep us scrolling, clicking, and liking—and at what cost. As Tristan Harris, co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology (and our guest on Ep. 35 of At a Distance), says in the trailer: “If technology creates mass chaos, loneliness, polarization, more election hacking, [and] more inability to focus on the real issues, we’re toast. This is checkmate for humanity.” Consider this film required viewing.