The Social Dilemma

By Jonna Anello

The documentary The Social Dilemma, directed by Jeff Orlowski, opens our eyes to the daunting effects of digital technology and social networking. Many of us pick up our phones and spend hours of screen time scrolling through our social media feeds without even thinking about what is involved in the invisible algorithms our feeds are designed with.

Every click, every like, every share, and every move we make is being collected, analyzed, and used to determine what will show up on our individualized platforms. A quote that put things into a perspective that I never even thought of before was when Justin Rosenstein stated “We live in a world in which a tree is worth more, financially, dead than alive, and a world in which a whale is worth more dead than alive. For as long as our economy works in that way, and corporations go unregulated, they’re going to continue to destroy trees, to kill whales, to mine the earth, and to continue to pull oil out of the ground even though we know that it is destroying the planet and we know that it is going to leave a worse world for future generations. This is short term thinking based on this religion of profit at all costs. What is so frightening is to realize that we are the trees and the whales”

He made such a powerful point in the fact that we are these “resources” and “products” being manipulated by focusing our attention on things they want us to look at rather than things that are consistent with our interests. Our physical lives don’t matter to these big corporations because all they really care about is who is getting our attention, and if they aren’t, how to get it. The documentary really shed light on the fact that, as students going into the PR industry, there is a lot of work to be done to integrate more regulations to be put into place and ethical issues to be solved in the digital world.

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