The Social Dilemma: The Dark Side of Social Media

Skyler Gisondo as Ben in The Social Dilemma. Courtesy of Expsoure Labs/Netflix.

The Social Dilemma, which premiered during Sundance in January, takes an in-depth look at the issues surrounding the dark side of social media.

It’s no secret by now that social media can come with negative consequences.  People choose what they want to share.  For me, I choose to share links to what I write, news articles, and photos.  But even then, I won’t share something that I wouldn’t want to say in public.  The question is: what is safe to share online?  We may never truly know the answer.

Many people have made the decision to leave and this is perfectly understandable.  At the same time, there are those of us who require social media in order to get clicks.  For all the problems that come with Facebook, there are those who require the platform for work purposes.  I remember talking with a friend a few months who when they made the decision to leave Facebook.  I’m like, all platforms have their issues.  There is so much hatred on Twitter that it took a one day boycott from Jewish users to send a message about the anti-Semitism on the platform.  Though I always find it awkward when someone says they’re quitting Facebook but keeping Instagram.  It’s like saying you’re a vegetarian but still eating fish!

There are a number of negatives that can come with social media.  These include–but are not limited to–conspiracy theories, misinformation, and politics.  The latter, of course, depends on the source because rhetoric can certainly incite violence.  The current political climate doesn’t help.  This could not be more true than right now.  We are in a global pandemic and social media is also helpful in spreading the word about protests.

But for all of the things that are bad with social media, there are positives.  It has allowed fans to be able to interact with celebrities and vice versa.  Though in other instances, toxic fans have driven those celebrities off of social media (See Daisy Ridley, Kelly Marie Tran, and Josh McDermitt).  Social media allows people to–well–show their true colors.

Jeff Orlowski’s approach to The Social Dilemma also includes a narrative portion of the film.  It’s not necessarily a docu-drama hybrid but I feel like it works well with the messaging approach.  This is where Skyler Gisondo, Kara Hayward, and Vincent Kartheiser come into play.

This is a film that tells us more about our habits.  Why do we let social media control our lives?  If you can answer this question, please let me know.

The Social Dilemma really hits hard about what happens on the other side of the screen.  A number of people are interviewed but there’s something from Roger McNamee that stuck with me.  Maybe this is because he used a pop culture reference to get his message across?  He brought up The Truman Show and how we’re living in our own world.  Through social media, we’re able to curate the news in our lives.  We dictate who we become friends with online and where we get our news from.  Think about it and then think back to Election Day 2016!  We all live in our own sort of bubble because of social media and news sources.

The Social Dilemma might not exactly provide entire solutions but it places us on the right path.

DIRECTOR:  Jeff Orlowski
SCREENWRITERS:  Vickie Curtis, Davis Coombe, Jeff Orlowski
FEATURING: Tristan Harris, Shoshana Zuboff, Tim Kendall, Justin Rosenstein, Cathy O’Neil, Jaron Lanier, Renée DiResta, Rashida Richardson, Jeff Seibert, Aza Raskin, Alex Roetter, Random Fernando, Roger McNamee, Anna Lembke, Jonathan Haidt, Lynn Fox, Bailey Richardson, Joe Toscano, Sandy Parakilas, Guillaume Chaslot, Cynthia Wong
CAST:  Skyler Gisondo, Kara Hayward, and Vincent Kartheiser

Netflix launches The Social Dilemma on September 9, 2020. Grade: 4/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.