As you “TikTok” so does the Clock

Netflix Documentary Shows How Social Media Algorithms are Coming for You

As you “TikTok” so does the Clock

Lucas Loessner

The Social Dilemma is a Netflix documentary speaking on the ways social media companies aim to manipulate you to spend more and more time on their sites. The documentary interviews ex employees from companies such as Google, Facebook, and Instagram who chose to step down from their positions as they felt morally uncomfortable by the complete lack of restraint in the algorithm. 

As a teenage high school student who actively uses a smartphone and social media, I found this documentary to be an alarming wakeup call to the manipulative nature of their business model. It is very strange to imagine a world without cell phones, which existed not too long ago. In a way, these companies have created an artificial habit for nearly 3.6 billion users worldwide, with no end in sight.

According to Statista.com, the number of social media users is expected to balloon to 4.25 billion in the next 5 years. Additionally broadbandsearch.net provided statistics showing the average time spent on social media has gone up 62.5% since 2012.

“I think the documentary has potential to start a necessary conversation about our use of social media, particularly around young folk.” said Ms. Ontiveros, a school counselor at Salesianum. “I think if kids are getting hooked on that instant gratification from such a young age, they are tying so much of their self worth into things like how many likes/views/comments a picture gets.”

Look no further than the freshman lunch periods at Salesianum. 

“It is the main reason that we don’t allow freshmen and sophomores to use their cell phones or iPads during lunch periods,” said Mr. Jackman. “There is a perceived safety net in using your phone in that you don’t have to take that risk to interact with those around you.”

In referencing a recent study, Ms. Ontiveros said “when people are able to view social media as an augmented reality, almost like a reality show, they have a healthier relationship with it and higher self esteem. I hope families watch Social Dilemma and talk about where they see themselves in the movie. Parents and students alike are definitely both guilty of getting sucked into their phones and the rabbit holes of social media.”

The algorithms implemented by massive tech companies create artificial habits which cause people to develop a dependence on their cell phones. for human interactions. The question is, are people going to realize they’re being controlled, or are they too connected to break free?