Review: The Social Dilemma fails to impress

A documentary lacking in the information department

The movie poster for The Social Dilemma, a documentary that explains the ways in which social media is controlling society.

Photo Netflix

The movie poster for “The Social Dilemma”, a documentary that explains the ways in which social media is controlling society.

Hanna Malone, Sports Editor

Netflix’s new documentary,  The Social Dilemma, had an immense opportunity to be revolutionary; especially today. Social media has a huge influence over society as a whole — people’s political opinions, the way they choose to spend their time, the way they think, how they choose their friends, simply everything. Social media is omnipotent.

The documentary, directed by Jeff Orlowski, focuses on social media’s impact. Former employees from Google, Facebook, Pinterest and others sit down to talk about the ways in which social media’s power has grown out of hand. Those interviewed explain algorithms that keep users interacting with it constantly, experts discuss the psychological and chemical reasons as to why the public network has manifested such an addictive quality.

The interviews are broken up with a screenplay that follows a family who are coming to terms with the fact that social media takes up too much of their daily lives. It features actor Skyler Gisondo, who starred in Vacation, and actress Kara Hayward, famous for her role in Moonrise Kingdom.

when the film first came out on September 9, I was excited to watch it. I had been waiting for it to come out since I saw the trailer for it a week ago. Being an avid documentary viewer, I thoroughly enjoy obtaining knowledge on random topics of discussion and gaining a deeper understanding of things. That is exactly what a quality documentary should do, anyways.

I definitely started the movie with high expectations, so it really bummed me out when I felt dissatisfied with the overall product. I felt as though because I spent an hour and a half watching this movie without learning a single new thing, I had wasted my time. I was being lectured on something I was already very familiar with, and that made the movie-watching experience quite a drag.

Admittedly, not everyone is aware of the dangers of social media, about how addictive it can really be. I did not mean to make this generalization. However, in my eyes, the information presented was mediocre at best. The people interviewed in the documentary were very vague with their true opinions, and seemed to water things down.  The facts presented had all been heard before.

The documentary talked about the addictive nature of social media, how much time the average person spends online and the affects of that, and of course, the way advertisements are generated personally for you based on how you interact with posts. Nothing felt fresh or really drew me in. I had expected this documentary to be eye-opening, and was thoroughly disappointed when nothing blew me away. But then again, perhaps that is only because I have read about all of these things online already, though admitting that is quite ironic.

This summer was one of the largest periods of social media usage and news “coverage,” as social issues and movements like COVID-19, Black Lives Matter, among others have been posted about constantly — sometimes bringing about a positive change, but making a negative impact in other aspects.

This year’s events were mentioned briefly, but the documentary failed to go into any sort of detail highlighting what social media does in those types of real-world situations and how social media encourages and promotes different responses in society. It was simply a topic that they covered to satisfy viewers.

With the internet’s prevalence today, and also based around the sole the fact that it is an election year, I was sure that the film would be a must-watch, when in reality it presented information that many were already well-informed on. I found the documentary to be dull and repetitive, lacking enticing facts and accounts that are vital to a successful program.