September 11, 2020, 06.08 PM

SAN RAMON, - “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix is setting out to expose the corrosive effects of technology during a time when people are becoming increasingly hooked on their gadgets.

The coronavirus pandemic has left people more dependent than ever on tools to keep them connected with friends, colleagues, and family.

When meeting in person is temporarily unviable, technology keeps the string attached. Wednesday’s release of “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix thus may strike some viewers as odd timing.

Read also: Indonesia Switches On Campaign to Get Everyone Online

But its makers aim to give you a better sense of why the pandemic isn’t the only reason it feels like we’re stuck in a dystopian nightmare.

The film, directed by Jeff Orlowski, aims to explain how Silicon Valley's embrace of smartphones, attention-grabbing algorithms, polarizing echo chambers and pursuit of profit have left users reeling in a way that could pose an existential threat to US democracy.

“It is a self-destructive code that has been planted in our society right now," Orlowski said in an interview with The Associated Press.

The notion of modern social media as a malign force that has hypnotized us into mindlessly scrolling distracting feeds, fostered division and elevated previously marginal groups and ideologies in ways that undermine social cohesion isn't particularly new.

Read also: Turkey’s New Social Media Law Stokes Fears of Increased Online Censorship

For the past several years, it's been the subject of Silicon Valley mea culpas (at the individual, if not corporate, level), foreboding news articles and academic studies and books.


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