I watched it last night and thought it was great. It was super well-made, entertaining, and technically accurate. Many documentaries focus on interviewing outsiders who don't know what they're talking about, but almost everyone in this documentary was knowledgeable and authoritative.
It's arguably a bit over-dramatized. For something as big, vague, and new as social media, it will always be easy to find horror stories and negative effects. Hilariously, one of the people they interviewed said that social media stands out and that nobody reacted negatively to the bicycle, but there was an amusing tweet the other day where somebody surfaced dozens of old, negative newspaper stories where people did just that.
And so it was with TV, radio, cars, and even books. People fear massive societal change, but those fears often turn out to be overblown and/or outweighed by the benefits, which may be the case with social media.
As the saying goes, "When you invent the ship, you invent the shipwreck." But since people by and large don't like shipwrecks, we work for years after the release of a new technology to both reduce its downsides and amplify its benefits. We would all rather ride in the planes, trains, and cars of today than those of 100 years ago. I both hope and suspect that will be true of social media in 100 years, too. If so, it will in part be due to the work of the people who are sounding the alarm now and educating others.
Until then, just be glad IH only has one developer, and he doesn't have any interest in mining all your data to serve you ads. 😈
I think that when people say that social media and tech is "just another tool or innovation," that's a bit misleading. I saw the funny bicycle tweet too, but I think it's pretty obvious that bicycles are not addictive tools. There really isn't a good historical analogy I can think of that represents tech. It's more like a bicycle with a built-in slot machine. It really has no historical precedent. That said, I'm hopeful that people will realize this and learn to manage the new tech appropriately.
I'll be honest, there are times when I feel a slightly uncomfortable pull towards IH, and I sometimes come here a little too often looking for the red notification bubble over my avatar. But I can also definitively say that I've gotten far more value out of this site than time I've put in, so it's not a problem (yet 😉).
I think media in general is addictive. It stimulates the parts of our brains that evolved to crave novelty, gossip, answers to questions, and social connection. It's similar to processed food taking advantage of our desire for sugar. These used to be necessary cravings for survival, but today we're oversupplied.
For example, The Social Dilemma documentary itself uses proven narrative hook techniques to keep you engaged and watching to the end. And people really do get unhealthily addicted to novels, comics, TV shows, etc., to the point where they stop showering and going to work because they have to know what happens next.
But it's certainly true that social (tech-enabled) media can achieve similar effects on steroids, with all the access these apps have to our personalized data, mobile phones' notification systems, and our social graphs.
Re: IH, I hope the site makes you more productive and inspired, not less! That's my goal. Always open to ideas for how to improve that and add more stuff that's actually useful for founders.
IH has def made me more productive, and I've met some stellar people here.
Ideas (curious if anyone else has suggested these):
Re: IH, the site absolutely makes me more productive and inspired, and I appreciate all the hard work you've put into it!
There's some chat around it here - https://www.indiehackers.com/post/the-social-dilemma-e73195cd35
Just finished watching this with my family. Overall, I thought it was really well done and I highly recommend it to anyone.
I've known about many of these issues for a while, but learned some new things too.
The thing that is scary is that from my perspective, the documentary is only scratching the surface of everything that is addictive and mind-warping about technology today. The documentary focuses on social media, but it could easily encompass everything from video games, to Netflix (think binge watching TV shows), to news outlets, porn, influencer marketing, work tools like email/chat/slack... the list just goes on and on.
One of the biggest challenges with tech is that it's not black-and-white. Something like smoking is really easy to demonize because pretty much nothing good comes from it. But tech is a mixed bag – it absolutely does a lot of good alongside all the harm.
One disappointment about the documentary is that it does very little to propose solutions other than regulation. I am all for regulation, but I'm not holding my breath and I think consumers of technology need to learn how to defend themselves against exploitation. Awareness is just a starting point.
Tristan Harris actually has actionable advice that he provides here:
I'm not sure why it didn't make it into the documentary.
Finally, I would really strongly suggest all indie hackers read "Hooked" by Nir Eyal which talks about many of the tactical and design decisions that can make tech/apps/websites addictive. It's simultaneously a tool to help your business and a knowledge that will help protect yourself from being suckered. It's like the tech version of "Influence" by Robert Cialdini – a book that helps business sell more, but also help consumers steel themselves against those same sales tactics.
Must watch for everyone! It was on point, well curated and it made be feel concerned!
Specially working in tech I could relate how we track stuff, no doubt big giants like Google, Facebook also do! Problem is more around humans not knowing what AI is capable of! We are so deeply involved with social media and it leaves a worsening impact over time. Try the experiment shown in the documentary of leaving your phone for like 1 day. You'll realize how deeply we are stuck!
Personally I use internet more for good, but I do have people in my community who are affected with such social pressure.
I did take some actions at my end -
There are lot of pros to internet, it's just you need to know how to use it. Most people are bad at that :(
Overall! We need to wake up to this and everyone needs to act!
Posted about a few minutes ago :-D
IMO we're heading into the phase where people will be taking control of what algorithms know about them. Part of that (but not all of it) needs to be governmental regulation. But connected services are going to be viewed much like motor vehicles or even scissors—tools to be used with great care, instruction and within the law.
I would also like to hear from those that have watched this movie... I think ethics that was discussed on this was sorta mind blowing...