So what is the real social dilemma?

Illustration by Roe Gassett | The Signal

Facebook’s launch in 2004 has been the catalyst for how we consume information. While our generation has strayed away from the site, many still use Facebook as their primary news source. According to the Pew Research Center, 69% of U.S. adults use Facebook, and 74% of that demographic uses it every day. 

We tweet, we like, and we share — but what are the consequences of our growing dependence on social media?” The Social Dilemma website said. 

Netflix released “The Social Dilemma” earlier this year. Ironically, social media users contributed to much of the buzz circulating the internet.

“The real social dilemma is having to use social media to complain about social media,” viewer Rivka Sophia Rossi said on Twitter

The docu-drama hybrid follows a family and their relationship with social media while also haunting viewers with real-life stories by former developers. Understanding where technology is taking us is a scary notion. Two billion people are having thoughts, seeing ads and making connections they did not intend to have when they woke up that morning. 

From the posts we see to search engine suggestions, everything is calculated. The algorithm informs us in its image without even realizing it. The documentary explains that the combined AI has more information on us than at any point in history. 

Capitalism is, obviously, the driving factor of advertising. We have already realized how closely Siri listens to us. More than once, I have talked about a product, and soon after, an ad appears on my Instagram feed.

The people you follow, how long you spend on their page, what you like, what you are most likely to comment and every other move you make is used for data. Advertisers and investors use that data to maximize their profit.

We don’t pay for the products we use … advertisers are the customers, we’re the thing being sold,” Aza Raskin, a former employee of Firefox and Mozilla Labs, said. 

Another major downfall of social media is the influence of information, or rather misinformation. The business model of Facebook is to keep people engaged. How much time will you give to your screen? The predictability of usage, which has given advertisers a whole new revenue source, has seeped into the predictability of how you think and what you are willing to believe. 

“If you want to control the population of your country, there has never been a tool as effective as Facebook,” Tristan Harris, former Google design ethicist and co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology, said. 

Online connection is primary, and as we continue to spend hours on our phone, making a disconnect is nearing impossible. If you have your own facts, there is no need to interact.

We live in our own realities, see our own facts and can’t comprehend when someone takes a different stance. How can you not when it seems plain as day what “the truth” is? 

“It’s not about the technology being the existential threat. It’s the technology’s ability to bring out the worst in society, and the worst in society is the existential crisis,” Harris said.

What should we do? 

Before us sits a deadly cocktail. We need to understand the severity of the situation and call for ethical products. Having open conversations and realizing the existential threat is the only way to fight this war on our humanity.