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Reflections on 'The Social Dilemma'

I was pleased to see so many former top employees of tech giants expressing their pessimistic views on today's social media and giving warnings to the world in this documentary. This is an excellent documentary shot in 2020, but four years later, such a "dilemma" has not been solved and is even more serious.
        Firstly, the documentary raised the issue of phone addiction, which I can refer to as "artificially created opium." The goal of software operators is to get users addicted to increase user retention time. The "culprit" here is the online advertising model. Rather than saying social media provides feeds for you to get more of the information you want, it's more accurate to say that the time users waste on social media is the real "feed" for platforms or vested interests, enabling them to earn more income. 

        Secondly, why are users addicted to different types of social media? The documentary also mentions artificial intelligence and big data. We know that by continuously collecting user behaviors in apps, including other private information, software operators can understand users' lifestyle preferences, current status or mood, and even political views, such as which candidate you prefer to vote for in elections. Such apps keep showing you what you want to see. But sometimes, the interests or capital behind software operators can also control or adjust what you see, such as concerns about TikTok's relationship with the Chinese government. This concern is reasonable, as once this data or operational rights fall into the hands of hostile nations or similar communist countries like China, with doctrines including weakening and undermining the United States, it's like opening your country's gates and providing weapons to the enemy, thus threatening national security.
        The documentary also continuously mentions the issue of misinformation on social media, which often spreads faster than true information. I both acknowledge and deny this. Social media indeed produces a lot of misinformation, leading to adverse consequences, like people believing the Earth is flat or swallowing chloroquine from fish tanks to prevent COVID-19 infection. However, I also think that the hasty use of "misinformation" is a very irresponsible label for others' views, especially when the power to judge whether it is misinformation is held by the government, like the White House spokesperson saying what counts as misinformation. For example, in January 2020, China and the WHO did not admit the infectiousness of the Wuhan virus, and in February 2020, Speaker Pelosi strongly opposed President Trump's decision to block flights from China. However, COVID-19 turned out to be a global pandemic, proving that many governments and the WHO gave incorrect responses at the time, indirectly missing the best opportunity for control, allowing the virus to spread globally. Public trust in governments, including the WHO, greatly decreased, leading to a constant outbreak of misinformation and conspiracy theories.
        Finally, one interviewee in the documentary was asked what would happen if this dilemma continued to the end, and his answer, "civil war," left a deep impression on me, as I share the same view. I am pessimistic about solving this "social dilemma." I think the endpoint of social media is due to man-made disasters or wars it causes. By then, perhaps we will need a completely new platform to replace the current social media model to carry out our social functions. 

Fair Use Disclaimer

This blog post includes film screenshots for the purpose of critique and commentary under the Fair Use doctrine. No infringement of copyright is intended.


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