Entertainment Magazine News Volume 70, Issue 2

Dissecting The Social Dilemma Documentary

by Riley Martin

Graphic by Zeyada Negasi

The Social Dilemma is a documentary that came out in 2020 which portrays the sinister reality behind social networking programs and their desire to keep you addicted by using specific-to-the-user algorithms. It was done in such a way that truly captured the attention of everyone watching it, especially through shocking statistics. One of these eye-opening statistics was, “64% of the people who joined extremist groups on Facebook did so because the algorithms steered them there.” It describes how truly interconnected everything is in the technology world. 

In regards to the production of the film, it was done well according to Las Lomas juniors Holly McKay and Sandra Safein. McKay said, “I usually think documentaries are pretty boring, but I actually liked how they structured this one. Like how they incorporated actors to demonstrate theories that were taught in the film so that viewers could relate it back to their own lives.” Agreeing with McKay, Safein said, “The producers did a great job in gearing the film towards younger age groups which helped make the film not only more entertaining, but enjoyable as well.” Although the film was geared towards the entire public, it was inherently clear the producers were trying to appeal to younger generations and used different film techniques and concepts that inevitably caused teenagers watching to relate. Along with that, they also made it a relatable film for parents to watch by featuring scenes of parents struggling to keep their children off screens. 

The producers explained the blunt reality behind social networking apps and how they work in a much-needed way. Safein said, “It didn’t sugar-coat anything; it was to the point and although it was kind of scary, I believe that it was necessary to portray it as they did so that they could truly capture the audience’s attention.” The speakers throughout this film were constantly making scary analogies about the tech industry and providing appalling statistics. Though, instead of just leaving these scary statistics standing by themselves, they found a way to connect the concepts with the statistics in a clear and comprehensible way. Ami Zensius, the Yearbook and Media Studies teacher at Las Lomas, described her opinions on the film. She said, “I feel like I’ve heard many of the individual major points of the film, but I’ve never seen them so clearly connected before. I thought it was incredibly powerful to show former creators and executives involved in the origins of social media talking about these inherent problems with them. We’ve sold our souls for scrolls and addicted ourselves for free.”

For a film intended to be transparent with the people about something that has become an increasingly large issue, it caused benefits that otherwise would not have been found without watching it. McKay said, “Immediately after watching the film, I deleted 2 of my social media apps…I really thought it was beneficial to my life.” Along with Zensius who said, “I have some friends who have deleted specific apps that they feel are particularly addictive for them.” To create a film that inspires positive change so quickly is worth anyone’s time, especially for the generations who are growing up with their screen as their pacifier.