"The Social Dilemma" (2020) | Sam Gall Movie Review Issue #60 Gem Mint 10.0


“The Social Dilemma“ (2020)

Director: Jeff Orlowski

Writer: Davis Coombe, Vickie Curtis, Jeff Orlowski

Starring: Skyler Gisondo, Jaron Lanier, Tristan Harris, Jeff Seibert, Bailey Richardson

Rated: PG-13 for some thematic elements, disturbing/violent images and suggestive material

Runtime: PG-13

Genre: Documentary, Drama

Country: USA

Language: English


Explores the dangerous human impact of social networking, with tech experts sounding the alarm on their own creations.


You might like this if you like: Documentaries, use social media, use the internet, use cell phones, use computers, dramas, Silicon Valley, technology


"The Social Dilemma" (2020)


Hearing so much about this film I finally decided to check it out for myself. Going in I expected some sort of terrible, revelation of a truth. Frankly, a lot of it I was pretty much aware of. The reason I’m including this in my “Gem Mint 10.0” series is because I do think KNOWING that information is what is empowering and keeps us in some control.


First off, I don’t have any answers or revelations to social media either. This review is going to kind of be my take on how I feel towards social media and how’s it’s helped or hindered me in life and relating it back to the film’s themes and points as much as I can. Well, I guess I just described how I approach every one of my reviews.. Here we go.


SOCIAL MEDIA SHOWS WHAT YOU WHAT YOU WANT TO SEE. It is constantly catering to every “like”, “comment” and “subscription” you click on. Creating a profile FOR YOU. Now I personally have ALWAYS gone onto the internet fully knowing that and honestly expecting/wouldn’t be surprised if it was doing more. I use my computer, phone, the internet all knowing that whoever created these things, the government, or whoever probably has access to everything on my devices including my camera. I don’t give a sh*t because why would anyone want to look at what I look at? Especially me? That’s why they create automated machines because nobody would want to sit down and mirror another person’s screen time for that long unless maybe you're some high profile person who's on a watch-list or something. I don't know but I know for sure that everything I do on my devices I guarantee nobody would pay a movie ticket's worth to go see. If I was running for President I understand this would be a completely different story.


Now to the advertising/recommended point. I completely agree with the film when they say don’t click on the sh*t. My simplest advice is when YOU go on the internet, your phone, computer, you do it with a specific, specifically your own, purpose and find what YOU want on there. Overall, don’t click on ads. If you HAPPEN to see something you like in some ad, open a new page and search for it yourself. Yes, that still has the same end point as the ad but for me at least, it’s my little f*ck you to them that I can do it myself and sometimes you never know where that link will take you. At least a google search is a little more descriptive before you click on a link. Also, always skip ads when you can, if you accidentally open one close it immediately.


Tristan Harris in "The Social Dilemma" (2020)


Recommendations I can only relate to YouTube. Now if I’m going to YouTube with intention to find “cat” videos I DO NOT MIND if YouTube recommends some to me. To me, the biggest harm they can do... is give me more “cat” videos. I am in control of how many I want to watch. They aren’t doing anything I wouldn’t have done myself. If I wanted more “cat” videos I would’ve simply searched for more “cat” videos. But again, for some reason, I feel fine clicking on the YouTube recommended videos because they always take you to YouTube videos. Not some random, unknown website/app you’ve never heard of before like some other ads on Facebook or Amazon. My point is, with at least YouTube, you’re usually there to find a specific video or a specific type of video. I happen to find the recommendation feature helpful in this scenario but in every other case I like to do it myself or the ads almost never align with something that looks interesting / legit to me. With filmmaking, all the film schools they advertise to me, never clicked on. If I want to go to film school I know which ones I’d want to go to already. I’d also know which people in my life I’d trust to ask for their opinion 100 times over an automated ad on Facebook. DON’T click any of that shit. Especially the educational ones, anything that says FREE, or is a deal, or sounds frankly too good to be true.. then it probably is. So why risk it because in the end you can always find any of those things advertised on your own or through a safer and trusted way.


I can certainly see though how some people could easily go on there and ONLY click on ads. Essentially like rock skipping but with ads. That’s a long, pointless rabbit hole to go down. So is YouTube but at least I know I created this own hell for myself.

I can also see how horribly it can effect politics, voting, children, and divide more people than it can connect and it breaks my heart. That’s the part that terrifies me. I get both sides but technology has done more good for me personally than it has bad. Like they say in the film it’s reunited families, created love, found transplants for surgeries.. so many helpful and good things. It really has done a lot for me and I think ALL you should use it for is to connect, help, create and educate.


I think the best advice from the film is to turn off notifications. That’s something I always have almost subconsciously done my whole life. I hated that sh*t. I’ll check my phone when I check my phone. Not when my phone or someone else wants me to. If I happen to be looking at it when I get notified then great I’ll respond but unless it’s for work or a family emergency there’s no reason to be running at every ding or ring your phone makes. Especially for likes, comments and followers on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. That’s the real addicting part. I fell trap to it for sure plenty of times.


Also, as entertaining and funny as it is, HBO's "Silicon Valley", for me, shined for its truth and relevancy. A lot of things that happen in that show have or could've happen. I think it explores similar themes and taught me a lot about the possibilities of technology and what the world looks like behind social media and our devices. Recommended for sure.


Skyler Gisondo in "The Social Dilemma" (2020)


Overall my takeaway wasn’t too worrisome. I think it’s kind of humorous and strangely empowering to just assume the government, or Apple or whoever, already knows everything about you from the devices you've purchased. Who cares. Just keep doing what you intended to do when you first opened your device. Don't get distracted by anything else. If you got on there to send an email just send the email. Ignore all the pop ups, recommendations, flashy images, things you did NOT procure yourself but happen to like. Just ask yourself next time, would I have clicked on that if it didn’t suggest it? Make conscious choices. Don't just click on everything. If someone on Facebook or Instagram message you with an unusual/unfamiliar link or was a message you weren't expecting to receive it's most likely an automated message from your friend's hacked account.


Glad this film is out there! Hopefully can connect different generations with each other more closely with a better understanding of social media and technology.

P.S. I really loved that they basically shot an entire narrative short and blended it together with the doc footage to help tell their documentary’s story. Skyler Gisondo is one of my favorite new actors from HBO’s “The Righteous Gemstones”.


Let me know what you guys think in the comments below! For a conversation ;) Looking forward to it.


Written by Sam Gall on 09/27/20


CGC Grading: Gem Mint 10.0


"Filmmaker Jeff Orlowski potently illustrates the dark side of social media in a creative way. Definitely an eye-opening + sobering film, even downright terrifying at times, which a good a cautionary tale ought to do." - Ruth Maramis, FlixChatter Film Blog


"Upsides to social media get pushed aside without bigger-picture relevance, and the film gets into talking about social media influence on democracy late in the game." - Tom Meek, Cambridge Day


Official Trailer:


Available on Netflix


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