Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Netflix Picks: The Social Dilemma

Have you ever wondered about how much you have shared online? Have you ever thought to yourself: “How much is too much?” I have. After watching the documentary titled The Social Dilemma, I am wondering if it is time to try to pare down on the sharing or if it is too little, too late.

In the documentary, several people are interviewed who have worked for companies involved in social media. They give the viewers an insight into how these apps may be free, but they also come for a price that we currently take for granted: giving our personal data. Not only that, but we allow this technology to become an addiction so that they can continue to siphon data from us that can be sold and monetized by these companies, all without us realizing or probably choosing to ignoring it. These days, I think it is more of the latter.

I think it would be completely ignorant for us to say that we are not aware that these companies are using our data to track us, know more about us, and use our data to get richer and to influence us to do things that they are paid to make us do. For the most part, I think we turn a blind eye to it because of the way we have already become addicted to it and its perceived advantages.

As the saying goes, if it is too good to be true, it probably is. I guess that is the social dilemma these days when it comes to the use of social media. We use it to stay connected to family and friends. We use it to network for our jobs/careers. You would be hard-pressed to find a life where the use of social media and the internet would not be involved -- unless you are living a hermit-life existence anyway. The documentary shows viewers that while we do not pay money to use them, nothing is free. The service is not the product, we are. Not only is our information mined to their advantage, but it is also being used to control and influence us according to what these companies are being paid for. That is very troubling, especially when you take note of how much social media is being used as a political tool these days.

It is all very disturbing to watch, particularly because I think that we are all aware of the consequences of social media but have been pretending that it does not exist. Having to watch these people who have worked in these social media companies tell the truth about everything meant facing that we have given so much of ourselves away -- all to share a few photos, videos, and our thoughts. We have allowed these companies to do what they want with us because we have been so willing to give things away. 

The documentary gives an example of one person whose information was being used by social media -- not only was his information being sold, but he was also being influenced based on the information he gave to keep him addicted to its use. It was all very creepy. It is scary to think that even if you make the effort to try to delete whatever you can now, as they say, the internet is forever. I think we can minimize what we can share from this point on, but still, our information is already out there.

People talked about there being a need for an ethical standard in the use of information that is being accessed from social media. At this point, is this even possible, and will people who have used our information in a way we never wanted them to be held accountable for what they have done?

The Social Dilemma is a disturbing documentary, but at the same time, I wanted to know more, particularly about how I can protect myself from the negative effects of data mining and all the other disadvantages of the use of social media. I hope that one day we can discover a way to protect ourselves or shield ourselves from the powers-that-be who use our information in ways we cannot control.

Will I still be using social media? Yes, I have no choice but to. But I must admit there is a certain amount of paranoia that comes with it this time around.


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