Subhash K Jha reviews The Social Dilemma

Review Of The Social Dilemma: Horror Flick Of The Smartphone Age

The Social Dilemma(Documentary, Netflix)

Directed by Jeff Orlowski

Rating: ***

Here is the thing. We are now officially a civilization of zombies, staring 24×7 at out phone-screens waiting for the next ping, posting ridiculously vain self-serving pictures which no one is interested in, unless you are Kim Kadarshian or Kangana Ranaut.

But the social-media organizations would have you believe that you are the centre of the universe, at least YOUR universe. It’s a frightening delusion created to generate revenues worth billions. While Google, Facebook etc laugh all the way to the bank we sit staring at the screen with glazed eyes.

This sobering Netflix documentary features some of the social media’s most distinguished renegades, men with a voice and consciences like Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin who joined the big social-media controllers and then, on realizing that civilization was being manipulated into believing that the iPhone governs its destiny, decided to try and bring an element of conscientiousness into the business of social media.

It is big business and more addictive than cocaine. The warning that this highly thought-provoking documentary sends off with unassailable rectitude is to back off from your phone addiction before it consumes you completely.

While the ethical voices try to make some sense of the manipulative madness of the social network, there is also a parallel fictional story in the documentary of a teenager getting progressively sucked into his phone screen while his family tries to warn him. Somehow the horror of it is not captured so well in this fictional subplot in a story that needed no furtive flight into fancy.

I am not very sure anyone would stop tweeting his or her two-bit on the government, or stop posting pictures of baking and faking on Instagram after watching The Social Dilemma. I doubt the gyan shared by the intellectuals and internet gurus will dissuade anyone from being a phone slave.

But the one thing that you won’t be able to ignore after watching this documentary is your dithering self-confidence. The phone is taking all the decisions on your behalf. Are you sure you want to continue your helpless dependency on it? Why don’t you ask your phone what it thinks on this?

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