They always say keep your friends close but your enemies closer. What if I told you there’s someone even closer than your enemy. Someone that you may have thought was a friend.
That’s right. Social media companies know exactly who you are, what you like, and how to manipulate you every time you go onto your phone. If you have no idea what I’m talking about that’s OK. I’m going to give you a little review and personal relfectioin on a Netflix documentary called The Social Dilemma. The quick summary of the documentary is that you have former employees and executives from different social media platforms really tell you the dirty work that goes behind the scenes. How your data isn’t really yours and how more and more people are becoming addicted. It is getting so bad that it is affecting many people’s lives including children.
Early in the show you can see kids and including the husband on their phones when eating breakfast. There is also a scene where the mother is asking her daughter to help set the table but the daughter ignores her mother because she’s choosing to be on her phone using social media. The mother takes matter into her own hands. For one dinner, everyone has to give up their phones and lock them up in a case. Forcing everyone to talk to each other.
I remember growing up as a kid and having dinner with my family. We didn’t have phones at the table. We had conversations with one another. My dad always asked how everyone’s day was. We all sat down at one table. When social media and smartphones became popular, one phone after another started to appear. Conversations became quiet and the attention went towards the phone. Unlike the mother in the documentary, we as a family noticed this trend and were able to get back on track to having meaningful conversations once again. Freeing out minds from technology.
Scary Accurate Algorithms
Throughout the documentary, it was mentioned that every single content that you see is not by random. It is social media platforms testing you to see which ones you are going to engage with the most. The goal is to keep you on the screen. As someone who likes to use TikTok, I’m always finding myself having a hard time exiting out of the application. I can spend endless hours scrolling through my phone and watching video after video. The content I see, it’s all based on previous engagement within the platform. I can interact with the Chicago Bulls account and the next moment I see an ad for a Bulls jersey. The chances that I end up buying it? Fairly high. Nothing is random nowadays. Everything is strategically planned and that is what that documentary is trying to educate all of us on. We do not have the free will to make our own decisions. Every decision we make is manipulated by someone above us.
Snap Out Of It
Don’t get caught up on what you see on social media. People like to promote their best part of their lives which makes them seem like everything is going well. In some cases it’s not. It’s this distortion from reality. That everything that we want to see is 100% OK when it may not be. Listen, I tend to scroll through my Instagram and I see people traveling everywhere. I’m not traveling. Is there something wrong with me? Why don’t I look like that? I always have to make sure that I shake my head and realize this lifestyle that’s promoted isn’t sustainable. It's only a single portion of someone's life, not the other say 90%.
AI Versus Mankind
As I have talked about before, it is getting harder and harder to get off social media. I’m not saying get off of it entirely. What I mean is the social media algorithms are becoming so technologically advanced, people are starting to lose the ability to avoid it. As you dive deeper and deeper, you lose a part of yourself. Even when you think you’ve made progress, social media companies grab you by the eyes and get you sucked back in.
In order to create a healthy relationship with technology, we need to understand and promote the side effects that it is causing people and children around the world.
“According to the Pew Research Center, 69% of adults and 81% of teens in the U.S. use social media. This puts a large amount of the population at an increased risk of feeling anxious, depressed, or ill over their social media use”.
By analyzing the chart you can see why teen usage in social media is so high. As new generations are being born they are growing up with technology given to them. When I grew up, I played with toy cars and ran outside. Nowadays you have kids given a tablet at one or two years old to keep them occupied. We are conditioning our kids to use social media at a young age and playing a role with their future mental issues.
I believe the best way to combat this is by introducing social media and these technologies at a later stage in childhood. Help a child and become familiar with his/her surroundings and comfortable with who they are as an individual. Not letting other people decide for them what they should look like.
I think that’s kind of what happened to me. I got onto social media I believe in seventh or eighth grade right before high school. Even then I felt that it was really early for me to get on. In the long run though, I think it has benefited me mentally in preparation for what to expect in the real world.
Can I last 24 hours without social media? It really depends on the situation honestly. If I had a day planned with friends to go hiking or go to the lake, I can easily throw my phone away. If I was at home by myself? No way. Remember when Instagram and Facebook went down? Everyone was freaking out.
Everyone went to Twitter immediately. I doubt anyone said, “Oh Instagram is not working, maybe I should go to the movies”. If they did, they are lying.
Personally I use social media to keep up with friends and family who live in different states than I do. I love to see how my friends have grown as an individual and within their careers. It is always great to see when someone gets engaged. Could I find this out if I made a phone call? Yes. That’s another thing about society that I know does to me. It’s easier to make the phone call to catch up but we won’t. And I can say that’s probably not just me but for a lot of people.
Another reason I use social media is because I want to make a career out of it. I want to help organizations connect with people. Build the connection and make consumers believe in the culture and what a brand stands for. Due to this, I have to get to know all the social media platforms which is why I use facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok.
This was not first time that I watched this documentary. I believe this was the third time I’ve watched it and each time it gets creepier and creepier. Since my first go-around, I have tried to look at social media differently. What I see is not a true reality but a perception that someone wants you to see of them. I’ve also gone back into social media platforms and deleted apps that I gave information about myself away. I’ve been careful about giving personal information and keeping a better eye on who accesses it. I’m not gonna give up any of my social media platforms that I use, but I am more careful. Even as I scroll through different platforms, I always find a good laugh when I can catch a company purposely putting a specific content in front of me. It is not anymore that they are watching me but I am watching them.