The Social Dilemma and the Truth About Technology | Culture


Released a year ago, the documentary “The Social Dilemma” is unlike any anti-device conference your mother has ever harassed you with. The docudrama offers Silicon Valley ethicists, tech experts and so-called “computer philosophers” a platform to shed light on the dangers of social media and the very technologies they created.

The film explores how technology has the ability to influence elections, foster conspiracies, and even spark mass civil unrest. In a way, the documentary predicted this event by portraying a fictional teenager radicalized by “the extreme middle,” the way the film avoids a political position, via online sites and social media platforms. Meanwhile, the riot in the capital was planned by far-right sites such as Parler, Gab, TheDonald and MeWe.

The documentary also asks viewers to be introspective. Tristan Harris, a former Google Design ethicist, explains how email is his Achilles heel. To combat the tendency to constantly update your inbox or refresh Instagram, Harris recommends turning off all notifications from social media apps in order to create some separation from our screens. All parents worry about screen time, but now that Gen Z is getting older, that’s something they’re also thinking about.

“The time we spend in front of a computer or our phone is overwhelming because our lives revolve around a screen even more now,” said Mary Sweeney, sophomore.

However, others wonder if social media and screen time is really bad. The film argues that it does and lets audiences swear to detoxify themselves from these apps “taking the time” to engage in so-called “real” human interaction. However, in the midst of a global pandemic, social media has been the saving grace of all generations when it comes to maintaining relationships with friends and family.

Not only do older generations fear the “addiction” they believe younger generations have to social media, but also the apparent associations between excessive screen time and the increase in mental illnesses that adolescents and young adults experience. are facing today.

However, in a recent chat with Patrick Markey Ph.D. from the University, he explained that most of his time is spent convincing parents that using technology and social media is not. as harmful as they are led to believe. Markey explained that research linking social media to mental health issues such as depression is often based on flawed research and data collection.

“One percent of our depression and well-being is related to relationships with social media,” Markey said.

He also pointed out that the use of “addiction” when discussing the use of technology is not the same as the addiction one can develop with drugs or alcohol. Like anything else, while a person can abuse their time on their phone or computer, there is no official psychological criteria for so-called “social media addiction”.

In recent months, the benefits of social media and technology have been demonstrated as students can safely continue their education using Zoom and other sites.

“People don’t have to come to school if they don’t feel comfortable because everything is so easily accessible online,” said second year student Molly McKenna.

In addition, people are increasingly using social media as a creative outlet. Seen especially during the lockdown, apps like TikTok have been used to break social isolation, meet new people, and enjoy a safe way to socialize for COVID during the pandemic. Questions remain as to the reality of these connections.

“Social media makes you feel like you’re connected to other people, but the connection is often not genuine and you end up suffering as a result,” said second year student Hannah Murphy.

The debate as to whether the advantages of technology and social media outweigh their disadvantages continues. Further research is needed for both arguments, however, due to the continued development of technology and social media, a definitive verdict will likely never be reached on the matter.


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