Like, tweet, share, repeat. Over the past ten years, this has been a routine for most of us. Checking social media quickly became the first thing we do when we wake up. What’s new in the world? Where should we eat tonight? What did Kylie Jenner do to her hair?
And for some of us, social media has become a little more than the odd picture here and there, it became a job. So when Netflix released a “documentary-drama hybrid [that] explores the dangerous human impact of social networking, with tech experts sounding the alarm on their own creations”, we were intrigued. And we asked SHARE Content Managers, Alex, Amandine and Joe, to get into the nitty-gritty of The Social Dilemma.
Captivating, informative, but maybe too biased
While the documentary does a great job at informing why social networks are free and what we give up in order to use them, details like the dramatic cutscenes and depictions of AI as actual humans who peek on your love life and every move seem to have one goal only: making technology look scary.
Generally, what starts as a potentially educational documentary around privacy and addiction, quickly turns into a fear-mongering fiesta that implies an inevitable path to social isolation, mind control and self-harm. Can social networks be used to skew public opinion and/or psychologically affect their users? Absolutely. But it’s not happening at the scale The Social Dilemma wants you to believe (well, Cambridge Analytica scandal aside), and we can still fix things. Moderation and vigilance are key – for Networks, Users, as well as us as Agencies and how we target & promote content.
— Alex, Head of Content
Nothing new, business as usual
For us ‘The Social Dilemma’ on Netflix was nothing new, business as usual, but for many people, this doc caused a few sofa shockwaves. I’ve had friends and family turning off their iPhone notifications and sitting down immediately with their kids to watch this show, and rightly so, because it did a fantastic job of explaining our industry and complex subject matter like algorithms to people outside it (far better than the Cambridge Analytica doc did in my opinion). In the same breath, it was highly overproduced, extremely one-sided and had a smattering of American political propaganda throughout. It was also pretty ironic that Netflix produced this show, as all of the ‘negative’ tactics mentioned in the doc are deployed by them to improve their users’ experience. They use algorithms to create a personalised experience (happy days, stop serving me Peppa Pig S1, I want S2) and they’ve created shows based on user data (again, I love that they do this).
Whatever your final opinion is after watching it, I urge you to look at it from the perspective of someone that works in the industry. It doesn’t focus on all of the work we do as marketers to make the experience of social as fun and engaging as possible without continually focusing on a sale, after all, the experience wouldn’t exist without ad spend. It also didn’t take into account the countless examples of good that social media has facilitated. I recommend writing down a list of the positive and negative outcomes that a social platform has had on your life and you’ll be surprised how many times it has joyfully connected you with a new or old friend and maybe even a career opportunity. The habit of picking your phone up too much can be fixed, we’re all victims of that, but connecting with your friends during lockdown, finding out how you can support a social movement like BLM or discovering that David Attenborough reached 1 million followers faster than Jennifer Aniston, would be difficult without the odd reminder from a social channel. I look forward to hearing your opinion…
— Joe, Senior Social & Content Manager
Another Netflix grand cru!
As a content manager, I felt compelled to watch The Social Dilemma. It offers an accessible look at a world that people outside of the digital industry don’t really understand. I mean my mom is still surprised when I explain to her that I don’t see the same things in my Facebook feed as her (to her defence she is from the Baby Boomer Generation).
I found it interesting to listen to testimonials from professionals who have worked at Facebook, Google, Pinterest… and ended up changing sides. Not that working for one of these platforms should be considered evil, obviously. Like a lot of things, social networks were a good idea in the first place, a pretty cool concept, starting from good intentions. Getting people closer to each other even when they are miles apart. And it did some good, it still does. It gives people a voice and even enables us to influence politics. Also, I can stay in touch with my best friend who lives in Canada and to me, that’s priceless. The inventor of Facebook’s Like, Justin Rosenstein, mentioned that when concepting it, their goal was to bring positivism and joy to people. They never imagined the harmful effects it would have. And that, in my opinion, is the problem. All these technologies are brilliant, but they have not been explored as thoroughly as they should have been.
Overall, I truly enjoyed The Social Dilemma. Another Netflix grand cru! And luckily for us, now that the “truth” is out there, we can turn things around. After all, social networks are still new in the grand scheme of things.
— Amandine, Content Manager
So, should you watch The Social Dilemma? The documentary-drama hybrid has its flaws. Part of it resembles the animation movie Inside Out a little too much. But overall, it’s a great conversation starter as it touches on the behind-the-scenes of major social networks.
It might shock you, you might want to get rid of your mobile phone once for all. But maybe not just yet. While there might be some negatives of digital life, as many other situations, it’s not always black and white. What’s your take on it? As of now, if you have one thing to remember from this blog is that when Netflix suggests you watch their latest documentary The Social Dilemma, maybe you shouldn’t skip it. And once you’ve watched it, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us by email and share your review!