Documentary Review: The Social Dilemma

Benny Burke, Writer

The Social Dilemma has been popular on Netflix since it’s debut on January 26, 2020. It is a Netflix documentary that focuses on the perils of social media and big tech. Directed by Jeff Orlowski, this documentary interviews former social media employees to hear their perspectives and experiences from the industry. This is done while alternating between interviews and the drama aspect of the film. Actors Skylar Gisondo, Kara Hayward, Sophia Hammons, Chris Grundy and Barbara Gehrig all play an American family showing the impact big tech has had on them.

The initiative to expose the dirty underbelly of big tech companies was started by Tristan Harris. He originally worked at Google and resigned due to ethical concerns. Tristan felt the need to sound the alarm on how toxic big tech has become to society, and now runs the Center for Humane Technology to carry out that mission.

Putting the crisis into perspective, look at author Jason Lanier, one of the few people the documentary crew interviewed. Lanier has written many books, the most famous of them being ‘10 Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now’. 

”If we go down the current status quo for another twenty years, we will probably destroy our civilization through willful ignorance, we probably fail to meet the challenge for climate change, we probably degrade the world’s democracies so that they fall into some sort of bizarre abdicratic dysfunction, we probably ruin the global economy and we probably don’t survive.” Lanier said.

The documentary did a good job of simplifying complicated subjects and maintaining a strong sense of urgency. The way they presented facts and evidence was easy to grasp, making it a great candidate for kids to watch as well. 

However, I do believe they pinned too many problems on big tech itself. Some problems that have existed since the first civilizations and that are persistent in mankind. Things like oppression, civil war and violence are all inherent in society and social media can’t be pinned as the sole problem for this.

The Social Dilemma is a great way to better your understanding of big tech and how to be part of the media responsibly. You can watch the movie now on Netflix.