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The Social Dilemma

My Top 9 Top Takeaways from the Netflix Documentary

Mrs. Wright
3 min readSep 11, 2020

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Yes, somebody is watching YOU.

I admit that I started watching the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma thinking I knew most of what they would say. I’m an educator who has been to social media workshops (they will scare you), and I am a mom who has faced serious, life-threatening challenges with my own teenagers that were caused (in no small way) by social media. I read up on everything and had a lot of meetings with professionals. I thought I had a better handle on this stuff, but it turns out I was naive.

The Social Dilemma documentary premiered at Sundance in January and is now playing on Netflix. The documentary is based on Tristan Harris’s research and a presentation he did in 2013. Harris, while working as a “design ethicist and product philosopher” at Google, put out his presentation internally at Google, A Call To Minimize Distraction & Respect Users’ Attention, and it serves as the jumping-off place for the documentary.

The cast includes Tim Kendall, the former president of Pinterest, Jaron Lanier, a computer scientist and philosophy writer, Asana co-founder and Facebook’s Like button co-creator Justin Rosenstein, Stanford University Addiction Medicine Fellowship program director Anna Lembke, among several other giants in the industry.

These are my top eight take-away from the film, but they are just a snippet of the things you will learn from watching yourself.

  1. The drug industry and social media industry are the only industries that call their customers “Users.” Let that sink in a moment.

2. The documentary points out that real tools, like a hammer, are used by humans. Technology is created and designed to use you, and its desired goals and outcomes are different than yours.

3. Social media has now coined the phrase “Human Futures” as if our lives are no different than purchasing pork belly futures on the stock market.

The documentary compares magicians to neuroscientists because they both fool us. The tech industry tricks us into staying online primarily through manipulation, and they present us with a different, more attractive reality.

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Mrs. Wright

Former restaurant reviewer and newspaper photographer. Married to a part-time goat farmer. BA Communications; MAEd.