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The Social Dilemma: ‘Social media is polarising people’

By Aqsa Khan Oct 8, 2020
In The Social Dilemma tech experts expose the dark side of social media  Picture: Aqsa Khan

A Kingston University student deactivated every social media app she used after being left terrified by the 2020 Netflix docudrama, The Social Dilemma.

Kristine Storengen, from Norway, made the decision to leave social media when experts who have worked at sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter  revealed the dark side of technology in the documentary.

Storengen said: “I felt like I was made aware about how social media is polarising people, as we’re only exposed to views and opinions similar to the ones we already have.”

The Social Dilemma discusses topics such as mental health, bullying, depression and addiction among other things, and how technology used by big tech companies can contribute to these issues.

“I realised that the business models that these companies use were slowly making me lose my free will and that my addiction to social media made me depressed and naive. When I’m not paying for the product, I am the product”, the Norwegian student said, quoting from the film.

The Netflix docudrama reveals how algorithms and data collection are used and can potentially manipulate social media users but others believe they’re used to make the users’ experience better.

In an interview with the Independent, a YouTube engineer who created the YouTube algorithm, warns social media users of the algorithm getting ‘smarter’.

The engineer said: “The algorithm is getting smarter and smarter every day. Today they’re convincing people the earth is flat, but tomorrow they will be convincing you of something [else].”

Storengen describes feeling “good without social media” and wants to live life without it whilst she’s young.

She said: “I think there are a lot of good things to social media like connecting people together, but I don’t see myself going back in a few years.”

The Social Dilemma is currently no.8 in the UK on Netflix.

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