We are the Products

The Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma, portrays humans as materialistic products.

The puzzle of social media and its impact on us is something we need to be aware of.

Today Testing (for derivative) / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

The puzzle of social media and its impact on us is something we need to be aware of.

By Daryn O'Neal, Staff Writer

Social Media has quickly taken over the world and how it is viewed, but many people over the years are starting to think that the world of Social Media has become more negative than positive in some ways.

The Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma, gave a blunt perspective on how our society has nearly become dependent on social media and the internet in general, and how people in society are being secretly manipulated all for the sake of money, greed, and many other symbols of power.

We have built an ego simply by just being humans. This documentary is hard to accept because it destroys the human ego by limiting our value to objects that can be easily manipulated.

Former Google design employee and  product philosopher, Tristan Harris says, “If you are not paying for the product, then you are the product.”

Even the quote itself can strike a nerve because we are being referred to as objects when we are used to being on the other end of the buying and selling scenario.

In the documentary, former employees for huge internet companies such as Google,  Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter elaborately show and tell us how many company advertisers invest in social media just to get and keep our attention. In return, those internet companies and their investors gain money and exposure.

Most of all we are being told through this documentary that our well-being as humans is not a major concern to these companies that play an integral part in our everyday lives. There is a concern that social media has been influential in the suicide rates in teenagers. You can find these statistics in Time Magazine websites, but they speak about it several times in the documentary.

Another way we have allowed social media and the internet to manipulate us is by our data being a key role in building an image for these internet companies. People around the world have been naïve by thinking that these apps are simply just parts of our phone that we have control over them. What the viewers of this documentary begin to realize is that these internet companies have been a major influence on what we do, how we think, and how we are identified.

In the documentary, Harvard professor, philosopher, and social psychologist, Shoshana Zuboff claims that social media has opened up a whole new world with many possibilities. She gets her information from her work as a social psychologist and professor.

“This is a new kind of marketplace now. It’s a marketplace that never existed before. And it’s a market place that trades exclusively in human futures. Just like there are markets that trade in pork belly futures or oil futures. We now have markets that trade in human futures at scale, and those markets have produced the trillions of dollars that have made the internet companies the richest companies in the history of humanity,” Shoshana Zuboff said.

Although there is only so much information they are able to have at this time, where social media is a fairly new concept to the world, we are also being informed of ways that social media uses us.

In the documentary, Entrepreneur, investor, and former Apple employee, Jeff Seibert, gave a chilling reality that the more we continue to like, follow, comment, or simply look at a certain post for a certain amount of time, we begin to see that these companies use our data in order to create an accurate figure that models who we truly are as people.

Every single thing that we spend time on when it comes to social media is used to study the human psyche, but the reason why these employees are worried is because there is no human supervision that is involved in monitoring this act of intrusiveness.

One troublesome yet normalized part of social media is what we call, “fake news,” which is a way to get attention from people by reporting things that are highly misinformed or just plain incorrect. This can be done through click-bait, ignorant people who speak with such confidence, or just simple misinformation. The fake news can spread quickly, but the accessibility that users have to fake news is starting to affect how this country views people who are on the opposite side of their own beliefs.

During this documentary, it is explained that the predictions that are made about us through social media play a part in what “information” is given to us.

In this documentary New York Univeristy Law School professor and A.I Director of Policy Research, Rashida Richardson said, We all simply are operating on a different set of facts. When that happens at scale, you’re no longer able to reckon with or even consume information that contradicts with that world view that you’ve created. That means we aren’t actually being objective, constructive individuals.”

In simple terms, this means that social media has allowed us to create our own reality that is far different from what reality actually is, and because of that we are lured into a sense of security and superiority by constantly being told through our social media content that what we see and think is correct regardless of the truth.

You can look at this as a way that we have allowed ourselves to be a part of this artificial clique that sits on a high horse while we look down upon those who don’t have the same views as we do.

When you think about it, this could also have to do with why people of past and present generations have identified a trend of hyper-sensitivity to anything and everything that is being presented on social media. We simply aren’t used to listening to the opinions of others during this time period.

According to the Pew Research Center, people should be worried about the future of humanity and politics because of social media. The researches have also noticed this trend of hyper-sensitivity.

We are creating our own distorted views of reality that does not include any type of opinion from other people, so we adopt a narcissistic attitude to anyone who has the audacity to disagree with our views, particularly when we have been fed this view over and over.”

— Daryn O'Neal

In the documentary, the producers added clips of people from both the Democratic and the Republican party saying derogatory things to the opposite party to prove why many former internet employees believe that this has made us a country more divided because primarily the Democratic and Republican parties, among other parties, believe certain negative stereotypes about each other that are often over-exaggerated. Because of this many people who have once associated with these internet companies are predicting that we are starting to not trust anyone or anything including the government.

Think about it like this. Have you ever been in a situation when two people are arguing over something, but you are sitting in the middle without being heavily affected? This is what this situation is like. Social media is making us come at each other with full force, while the people who run these companies sit back and watch us destroy one another.

There is so much more information that has not been exposed yet, but what we really need to take into consideration is are we really ready to take the proper steps in order to help humanity?

Social media is such a huge part of our lives that unfortunately many people are not willing to see the negative effects that it may have on society. That is why many people in this documentary are not very optimistic about the future.

The only way that we can put a stop to this, is to take a broad step to demand a more cautious, careful, and civil environment. from these large internet corporations. If not then there is a good chance that we will fall down a rabbit-hole of oblivion that leads us from being divided to completely disconnected.