A Major Dilemma

The modern world is one of increasing interconnection and complication. With that comes diverse interactions with diverse people, both on and offline. It is up to each individual who they choose to associate with and which facts and opinions they choose to buy into.

A recent conversation with my fellow twenty-somethings ended up focusing on the construct of social media. Social media giants like Facebook and Twitter consume the daily attention of hundreds of millions of users. While neither inherently good nor bad (in my opinion), it is important that social media users realize why they see what they see when using most commercialized social media apps.

In my recent conversation, I learned of a 2020 documentary drama called “The Social Dilemma”. The Social Dilemma describes the negative effects of social media both on the human mind and society at large. Included in the documentary are interview testimonies of some of the programmers who designed certain large social media websites, some mentioning they modeled their programming strategy on the science of addiction.

Essentially, what pops up on a user’s social media feed often caters to past “likes” or comments that user has contributed to posts with the same opinion. The goal of many social media outlets is not always to keep a user connected but rather hooked into an echo chamber of his or her own opinion.

It is because of manipulative practices like these boasted by many large social media platforms that we as individual users must exercise caution. We ought to remember that the intent of most social media apps is to generate profits, not foster positivity or awareness.

Despite the nefarious calculation behind many of today’s commercialized social media platforms, it would be unfair to state that all social media is bad. In fact, SOVA is a prime example of the opposite. Providing a place for teens and young adults to discuss awareness and positivity (free from manipulative social engineering algorithms) is a fair case for the benefit that social media can offer young people.

Are you aware of the strategies that social media platforms often use to prey on their users for profit? How can we be more conscious consumers of social media?

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