The Social Dilemma Review


“If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.”

At an age where misinformation spreads faster than wildfire, where social media has become the battlefield for political debates and a tool for comparison among each other, “The Social Dilemma” becomes not just a documentary but a warning, as well as a call to action.

Directed by Jeff Orlowski (Frame by Frame, Chasing Coral) and written alongside Vickie Curtis and Davis Coombe, “The Social Dilemma” presents the dark side of social media, an issue that has become more and more pressing in the last decade, through eerie visuals, ominous music, and haunting commentary. The documentary was first released on January 26, 2020, at the Sundance festival, and was added to Netflix’s vast library of titles on September 9. 

The documentary offers an in-depth look and fresh perspective on the perils of social media from tech workers and former Google, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram employees including Tristan Harris, Jaron Lanier, and Tim Kendall. They share, through various interviews, the way social media has shifted from being a tool and means to connect society to a device with its own agenda. 

As a documentary, “The Social Dilemma” is an informative piece of cinema. It is both compelling and engaging, and challenges viewers to stop falling under social media’s spell while they still can. It is a fun, intriguing, and relatively short watch, lasting an hour and a half. Unlike the apps it criticizes, the film does not waste the viewer’s time and goes straight to the point.

While the dramatization and acting can be a bit flakey or cringe-worthy at times, the information presented is not. Social media’s sole goal, as Harris puts it, is to sell our attention to advertisers and influencers. Instagram and Twitter may be free, but they make money depending on how much time they take away from us. Developers design the apps to be appealing to get users to spend as much time on the app as possible. The problems of social media are not the algorithm’s fault, but ours. Social media has taken control over society, and both companies and users have the responsibility to shift the power once again before it is too late. Whether you agree or disagree that social media is controlling us as individuals and a society, “The Social Dilemma” is a documentary worth watching and taking notes from.