Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide how much time you want to spend on social media platforms.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide how much time you want to spend on social media platforms.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Random Forays: The Social Dilemma is actually personal

The Popular Netflix film highlights the specific quandary that we the people face in today’s social media driven time capsule, but ultimately our lives are impacted by the choices we make
By Vivek Atray | Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
UPDATED ON OCT 11, 2020 10:56 AM IST

Dilemmas of various kinds perennially dot our lives. Relationships, careers, pass-times, pursuits, interactions and even our personal spaces allow us the liberty, and often create the necessity, of having to take decision after decision. Mundane matters – which route to follow to a destination, which menu item to choose, which clothes to wear and which friend to chat with, also provide us with the opportunity to flex our decision-making muscles, so to say.

The recently popular Netflix film, The Social Dilemma, highlights the specific quandary that we the people face in today’s social media driven time capsule. Privacy issues as well as mental health and specifically addiction related issues have been raised by this film. The documentary highlights the so called terror that users face due to their own browsing habits. The film cautions virtually the whole world to back off in its usage of those social media power houses, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the like. Big Brother is always said to be watching. Our every move, our every choice, is known to these big bad guys, according to The Social Dilemma.

This is a film based on damaging video statements given by former employees of Facebook, et al, against the social media world. Thus, advertisers are said to be sharks waiting to swoop upon us the moment we click a button. Algorithms which are used by these social media giants are alleged to be designed to extract every fraction of monetary resources that we possess. Political and financial bigwigs are supposed to be biding their time until we divulge our true nature.

The Social Dilemma has truly set the cat among the pigeons and deflated the cushy bubble of virtual reality that several people were living in before they viewed the film. One youngster I know well, and I dare say there are many like him, has actually deleted his beloved social media accounts, so petrified was he by these scary ‘revelations.’

The film has jolted the millennial in particular. That young person who was born with technology in his palm now discovers that technology can harm him no end. His beloved Instagram, where he virtually lives, is supposedly inhabited by monsters disguised as advertisements, leading links, suggestions etc. which can gobble up his peace and his freedom. The Netflix film has thus rattled and shaken a large number of people across the world.

The response of Facebook to these forceful allegations has been to send out a typically pointed denial which virtually scoffs at the main thrust areas of The Social Dilemma. Facebook also points out that Netflix is using algorithms similar to its own to target potential viewers who would be keen to view a film like The Social Dilemma!

There are always two sides to a coin. Shades of grey everywhere. Just how much danger am I in, if Instagram knows that I love idlis, cricket, coffee, and books, not necessarily in that order?

Let us therefore take a reality check here, unencumbered by being obsessive users, or alleged perpetrators of stress creating models, in the social media realm. The fact remains that our own choices determine how we interact with the world. When we choose to eat a burger and drink a Coke, we know that they’re not good for us, unless we consume them infrequently. Similarly, we should be able to control the time we spend on the internet, and the desire to overdo our involvement with it by avoiding the urge to post personal pictures etc. which need not be posted.

Even if there is a whirlpool, a mass of quicksand, waiting everywhere in the virtual world, to pounce upon our weaknesses, we can avoid it. We must choose not to overdo anything. We must choose to be disciplined. We must choose to distance ourselves from our smartphones for large amounts of time, every day. Balance, as always, is the key.

Very few people can remain devoid of social media usage today. I am to attend an online birthday party for a childhood friend, tonight. The social media world is not really demonic in nature, unless we allow it to be.

The choice is ours. Be sensible, or be taken for a ride.

vivek.atray@gmail.com

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