Instagone: How the Social Dilemma Scared the Social Shit Outta Me
The Social Has Gone from Social Media, and So Have I
I’d warrant many have heard about the Netflix doco The Social Dilemma.
If not, here is the trailer.
Take a look.
A few friends had recommend it to me and I had added it to my watch-list, but it wasn’t really pushing its way into my current must watches, which included Hannibal (yes I’m wayyyy behind there but loving it), My Octopus Teacher, Umbrella Academy Season 2 and Ratched (Hitchcock lovers — this is a must-watch!), amongst others.
And then on the night before I had a dinner planned with a close mate, he texted me asking if I’d watched The Social Dilemma yet because he really wanted to discuss it, so it barged its way up my watchlist to my “watch now” list.
To set the tone, I deactivated Facebook earlier this year. This was primarily because I didn’t approve of how much data Facebook had of mine, nor of how it was moderating (or rather NOT moderating) its platforms.
I had also deactivated Twitter (and have several times, mostly due to trolling), but as a writer and someone who works in the media, you MUST have Twitter, so I kept a blank account that I use to search and lurk on.
But Instagram…I kept. I was “attached” to it. It documented so many great moments of my life over the past 5–8 years and it was harmless, right?
Yes, sure, owned by the evil Facebook empire, so it really should have gone with Effbook but it felt the lesser of all the social evils, particularly given that I really only used it to take photos of the cool things that caught my eye in my world and my travels.
Anyhoo, that night I settled into my couch to watch The Social Dilemma, my iPhone in easy reach…just in case…of something or other about needing to always have it within easy grasp…because…
Yes, addiction, let’s call it what it is, which is to not make light of other far more dangerous addictions that blight our world.
And yet, if anything, the insidious nature of so many of us becoming addicted to digital, primarily the social media aspect of it, and largely through our phones, me included (although, I do also work in digital, so it’s tricky not to), could almost be considered even worse than the more in-your-face kinds of addiction.
This is the central premise of The Social Dilemma — that big tech, primarily the social media platforms, has tapped into our brains and created, then fed, addiction.
Sure, the corny docu-drama parts of The Social Dilemma showing our “poor kids” being manipulated by the big bad social companies were lame, even if their points were all valid.
But the actual interviews with ex-tech types from many of the big social platform players were eye-opening, suspicion-confirming and enough to make me pick up my phone, do a data download dump from Instagram and then make “Insta-gone”, deactivating then deleting it.
The day after my Insta-purge, I felt the first little niggle of coming off my addiction when, as I walked to get my morning coffee and read the news, I flipped into auto mode and went to…check my Instagram feed.
Now, I was never a scroller with Insta…more a poster, occasional scroller and, admittedly, once in a blue moon, I had been sucked into a purchase (some actually pretty cool sunglasses, I cannot deny).
So, a light user, not a heavy loser…I mean user.
Because of being not completely obsessed with it, besides that first moment of breaking the habit and reforging the neural pathway of “check Insta”, and then another moment later on in the morning when I was out trail walking and again broke the other neural pathway of “take photo for Insta”, I moved on pretty damn quickly.
In fact, a week later…I’m all, “Insta-what”?
Which maybe defeats my argument that socials aren’t as addictive as The Social Dilemma purports them to be.
But…and I’m not blowing wind up my own arse here…I don’t overly have an addictive personality (exceptions: pizza, Australian Rules Football and coffee), so losing socials from my life was never going to be that much of a challenge.
And truth be told, I do not miss Instagram.
I do miss aspects of it, such as being able so easily to share discrete moments of my life with friends.
And yet I’m now actually doing that in a more personal way by taking photos of cool stuff and just sending them via text to the REAL people in my social network, not putting them on a platform and hoping to get my little hit when I see how many people like it.
I may go back to Insta one day, especially if the next (I stress the word “next” hopefully…) US government keeps on prosecuting the case to bring social platforms to account and potentially breaks them up to crack their ridiculous market power.
If this happens, or some other market regulation to get them in check, it could also mean social platforms become more responsible and ethical entities…or maybe I’m just dreaming about that.
But why not dream?
Why can’t these platforms be as their name implies — “social” — digital places that bring people together in a positive way, rather than money-making machines that feed addiction, narcissism and some darker shades of what it is to be human?
If you haven’t watched The Social Dilemma yet but have had that nagging voice in the back of your head questioning your own use of social media, or are a little concerned about how much your kids are addicted to it, it’s definitely time to watch it.