Film screening raises awareness of social media problems
Tweet, tag, like, share. These actions have become ingrained in everyday life as we navigate the world of social media, internet usage and screen time.
In the new film “The Social Dilemma,” producer Larissa Rhodes and co-producer Daniel Wright discuss the dangers and consequences of our growing dependence on social media. The Bud Werner Memorial Library is offering a free screening of the film through May 14.
In conjunction with the viewing of the film, the library will host an hourlong discussion with Rhodes and Wright on Wednesday.
“Issues, addictions and manipulations that ’The Social Dilemma’ unveil are only growing deeper at this point — no substantial regulations are currently stopping or slowing the growing incursion of social media into our lives,” said Jennie Lay, adult programs coordinator at the library. “It’s a modern plague of sorts, and unlike the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s not under any kind of control.”
Wright, the film’s co-producer, moved to Steamboat Springs with his family in 2005 and attended Steamboat Mountain School. He was working as a freelance producer when he was approached by Rhodes and director Jeff Orlowski to work on “The Social Dilemma.”
“I typically worked on projects that focused more on environmental issues,” Wright said, “so when (Rhodes and Orlowski) initially came to me, I was skeptical. It feels like there are bigger issues out there in today’s world.”
But when Wright heard the phrase “Social media is the climate change of culture,” he was hooked.
“Personally, I had never thought much about the negative effects of social media,” Wright said. “I knew that it was taking up a lot of my attention, but I attributed that to a lack of self-control on my part. But after the first interview we did, I realized this is an issue beneath other issues like mental health and political polarization.”
The film explores the impact that a relatively small number of Silicon Valley executives and engineers have over modern-day society, touching on issues such as technology addiction, social engineering and surveillance capitalism.
Featuring interviews with high profile players in the tech world — Tristan Harris, of the Center for Humane Technology; Justin Rosenstein, who co-invented the Facebook “like” button; and Tim Kendall, former president of Pinterest and former director of monetization at Facebook — the film combines narrative drama with documentary investigation to unravel one of the largest issues in society today.
But, Wright said, the goal of the film is not to be anti-tech but rather to raise awareness on an issue that many people don’t think about.
“The thesis of the film is that if you’re not paying for the product, then you are the product,” he explained. “It’s important to understand how the platform is using you. So if the average person can watch this movie and have a better understand of why they’re using a certain platform and what they’re getting out of it, that’s a good thing.”
Visit SteamboatLibrary.org/events/socialdilemma to get access to watch the film for free during the library’s screening window through May 14 and sign up for the discussion at 7 p.m. May 12 at CrowdCast.io/e/socialdilemma.
Sophie Dingle is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today. She can be reached through the editor.
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