The Social Dilemma: The Dangerous Human Impact of Social Networking

Abner Torres Martinez
5 min readApr 12, 2021

The advancement of social media in today’s world is head-spinning. Just over a decade ago, we often used social media to simply stay connected with family and friends or establish new relationships. There wasn’t sponsored ads all over our newsfeeds, no one was a social media influencer, photo editing was left to the professionals, and live streaming wasn’t a thing. Now, social media has given us the ability to help advance in our personal and professional lives. It gives us incredible freedom; from taking businesses online and acquiring customers from all over the world, to taking creative talents to new heights through photo editing and video streaming. Even though there are so many advantages, it’s important to understand what impact social media can have on different areas of our lives, such as social connections, productivity and emotional health.

The Social Dilemma | Produced by Netflix Film

Directed by Jeff Orlowski, The Social Dilemma is a Netflix documentary-drama hybrid film that explores the dangerous human impact of social networking, with tech experts sounding the alarm on their own creations. The film went into great lengths and detail on how big social media companies manipulate users by using algorithms that encourage addiction to their platforms.

It also featured extensive scripted sections centering around a family that has been nearly torn apart because of social media’s firm grasp on their attention. I resonated with their experiences throughout the film, and it was oftentimes hard to watch unfold. Specifically, the scene where the family was preparing for dinner and the mom went around the table to collect and lock up everyone’s phone so that they can focus on each other.

Growing up, my family would oftetimes have dinner alone or in separates areas of the house because we were too caught up with Netflix, videogames, television, or anything that was technologically driven. After spending dinner alone, it left each of us with a great distaste, feeling guilty about not spending dinner together. However, whenever we did have dinner together as a family, my mom would always reiterate to everyone around the table to put their phones away and to focus on what matters most — family.

Dinner should be a no-phone zone

The film highlighted a significant amount on how social media distorts our view of ourselves, our relationships, and our broader reality. When I was in high school, I did suffer through distortion due to social media. I was first introduced to social media when I got my first phone sophomore year of high school. As someone who never had social media or even a phone prior to my 10th grade year, being introduced to it for the first time was very overwhelming for me. I remember spending hours on social media, and oftentimes absorbed by it to the point where I lost my sense of motivation to do anything else. Luckily for me it was just a phase I went through my 10th grade year and left it in the past soon after. Do I see myself ever being distorted again because of social media? Probably not, and I say that because I am not much of a social media user. However, I would love to get more involved with social media, doing so in a responsible manner.

In the film, the case is made that human willpower can’t be expected to compete with some of the most sophisticated AI’s on the planet. That being said, establishing and maintaining a healthy relationship with our devices and the internet is important as it provides the opportunity to only be affected in positive ways, eliminating the disadvantages and dangers it brings. One may ask, “how do I establish a healthy relationship with technology?”. First, simply limit your phone time, which is easier said than done for many people. One of the first things many of us do in the morning is we check our phone. We open our text messages, respond to emails, check our notifications on our social platforms, etc. Before we realize, it’s already midday, and we wasted our mornings. Making an actual schedule for when to use your devices can go a long way in limiting your time on them. That could include staying offline for an entire day each week and using online devices between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Setting rules to limit phone time can allow you to shut off things that aren’t worth wasting your time on or meaningless, enabling you to fully focus on nurturing and building better relationships with your loved ones.

Offline activities such as sports can help restore balance and foster a healthy relationship with technology

Taking breaks and stepping away from technology every few hours can further foster a healthy relationship with technology. Getting your eyes off a screen and rejuvenating can help your physical and mental well-being. Plenty of offline activities such as workouts, sports, board games, meditation can help restore balance in your life. Even something like a short walk outside or a coffee meeting with a work colleague or friend, not only will help restore balance but also foster better relationships. Once you find balance in your life with technology you can now allow yourself to collect mental energy and focus, live a better live, and make better decisions. Evaluating how we use technology is crucial to our well-being and society. If we choose not to acknowledge or do anything about it then we are in for a rude awakening.