Watching documentaries that are produced by Netflix is hit and miss. As a billion-dollar corporation, it can be hard for Netflix to release a product that treats a political or cultural problem with true objectivity. Netflix has produced a bunch of content that seems to serve either a liberal agenda or masks as pure propaganda. There are three very recent examples of this trend. The movie “REVERSING ROE” gives a supposedly objective look at the abortion issue but upon viewing, it feels like a very one-sided liberal propaganda film. The excellent documentary “AMERICAN FACTORY” was incredibly interesting, but the filmmakers missed a larger point about the issue being portrayed. Even though the movie tries to come across as a pro-union counter to the Chinese company that opened this factory and was pushing the workers to perform above their abilities, the Chinese investor makes it very clear that productivity can be achieved inside the factory without the use of human beings. This point seems to be missed with its pro-union message when robotics have taken over and dominate the production inside the plant. The final example is the abysmal documentary “THE WHITE HELMETS” which has been proven over time to have been a false portrayal of a movement inside Syria that actually comes across as the worst type of government funded propaganda. So going into watching THE SOCIAL DILEMMA, I had to acknowledge my objectivity as a reviewer but understand that Netflix can often portray a very specific one-sided bias inside their productions.
The documentary does three things exceptionally well. As a person who has followed the technology industry very closely over the past dozen years, I have taken a personal interest in the psychological impacts of this new technology. My cynicism for social media has unfortunately come true with the recent events over the past five years. This documentary does a deep dive on the psychological impact on social media on the young mind and how it directly impacts children’s personal sense of self and creates insecurities where they compare themselves against their peers. Another fascinating impact revolves around how the advertising algorithm works and the fundamental purpose of what it is trying to achieve. This is the highlight of the documentary and portrays the social media companies in a way that George Orwell never could have imagined. The internet went from a knowledge acquiring decentralized tool and has devolved into a surveillance and propagandistic technology where the richest and most powerful interests use the tools available to help guide the cultural discussion. This is the primary reason why these companies are worth trillions of dollars. Finally, technology was originally invented to improve efficiency and with the advent of the World Wide Web in 1989, it was supposed to open and expand our minds to unlimited knowledge. But it actually has created divisive personal bubbles where people with differing perspective and points of view no longer work together to compromise and negotiate so we can move our society forward. Instead, it has radicalized different points of view and hardened people’s feelings towards their opposition which is starting to lead to violence among these individuals best explained by the groups ANTIFA and THE PROUD BOYS. For these reasons alone, this documentary should be seen just to understand how destructive social media has gotten. Like any good drug, social media is something that needs to be appreciated in moderation.
Even though the “whistleblowers” in the film seem to be truly disgusted with what their inventions have done to our society and explain the motivation behind ideas like the “Like” button which has become controversial, they slide into promoting resolutions that I call the Michael Moore Problem. Defined, the Michael Moore Problem is: “The creation of a documentary over a vital political and cultural issue that exposes injustice and other social problems. But the resolution promoted by the filmmaker may actually be more destructive than the problem.” Like his films SICKO, CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY, and BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE, Michael Moore is fantastic in analyzing an issue that he is passionate about. But when you look at his final resolution in these films (Which is to embrace more ‘socialism’ or the banning/regulation of guns), these solutions will not resolve the issues that Moore is trying to fix. In fact, these problems will likely only get worse with government intervention. Almost every single person in THE SOCIAL DILEMMA calls for ‘government regulation’ as a solution to the problems of social media. Just like the recent fake…sorry…real “whistleblower” Frances Haugen who exposed the evils of Facebook and is asking the government to be the solution to the problem. First, can any of these people think of something that the government has done well over the past decade? Second, where is the analysis that government regulation is likely to not only make the internet a much worse place but could give corporations and the government more control over the content. These ideas are never discussed. All these tech workers default to is the need for ‘regulation’ and certain types of censorship that can be deemed ‘misinformation.’ If they truly believe this will make the internet a better place, I have a million-dollar mansion in Thailand that I will give you.
Again, take this documentary with an objective grain of salt. The content is fascinating, and the little story told inside the film which is used as an example of the destructive impact of social media is very well done (Shout out to MAD MEN alumnus Vincent Kartheiser for playing the “social media algorithm’). But understand that you can perceive this film as having an underlying agenda that may help the social media companies more than it hinders them if you follow the advice of the individuals inside the movie. Until next week!
EXPERT OF SOME