“The Social Dilemma” Helps Viewers Learn to Unplug

“The Social Dilemma,” a documentary reflecting on the dangers of hidden social media, has inspired a lot of people to unplug.

“The Social Dilemma” released on Netflix in September 2020. Image Courtesy of: @GetInvolvedUH via Twitter

Released on Netflix in September of 2020 and directed by Jeff Orlowski, “The Social Dilemma” does what many other documentaries like it haven’t: it shows a combination of interviews and fictional scenes from a suburban family that are suffering from the effects of a newly found social media addiction. 

The interviews are between Orlowski and some of the top executives and creators of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Google.

These representatives explain the reality of the social media industry and what all of our swiping really does. 

Their main goal? To attract us into spending more time on social media to then collect our data and sell it. 

IndieWire’s senior film critic, David Ehrlich, praised the movie by saying it was, “Perhaps the single most lucid, succinct and profoundly terrifying analysis of social media ever created for mass consumption.”

Rotten Tomatoes critics and audience reviews seem to agree with Ehrlich, reaching a rating of over 80 percent.  

To put it in the simplest of terms, social media is a dangerous world surrounding the world. 

And those within the film’s interviews, the creators, all agree.

Jeff Orlowski is the the director of “The Social Dilemma.” Image Courtesy of @SocialDilemma_ via Twitter

Former Facebook executive Tim Kendall said that his biggest “short-term worry” is a “social civil war,” while American-writer Jarion Lanier said, “if we go down the status quo for, let’s say, another 20 years, we probably will destroy our civilization through willful ignorance.” 

Lanier explains within his interview about the multiple books he has written based on his concerns for our society’s future within the technological age. 

The biggest topic that came into question throughout the documentary was what the solutions are, if there even are any.

The one downfall of the documentary is how all of the answers have a tendency to be  “unoriginal” or “disappointing”; these simplistic direct answers consisted of turning off your notifications, uninstalling time-wasting apps, fact checking your sources and following people with opposite views of you. 

There comes a double-edged sword for many viewers as they yearn for answers but are left with the realization that, in fact, there isn’t one. 


This is the critics’ consensus on Rotten Tomatoes. Image Screenshot Courtesy of rottentomatoes.com

None that are necessarily realistic. 

The irony of the fact that there is no answer is what really makes this documentary important- it isn’t a warning, it’s already happening, and it’s just to spread the truth.

Society is stuck in an endless pool of data and statistics that fuel our economy which, in turn, fuel our attention, leading to the never ending cycle of mindless scrolling and liking. 

Orlowski should be praised for this piece by the public; however, many have looked down on it, claiming it strays on the negative, but if it didn’t, it wouldn’t have a purpose. 

“The Social Dilemma”  wouldn’t teach the viewers anything, it would just be another thing to distract the people from the world instead of opening their eyes to it.