Please pardon my shameless borrowing of the name of one of the more interesting streaming TV shows for this headline but it just seemed so much the perfect headline for this post. The Hollywood Reporter has an excellent guest column article by Jeff Orlowski, the filmmaker behind Netflix’s The Social Dilemma.
Orlowski’s thesis is that we are all unwitting Trumans, each starring in our individual versions of The Truman Show, unaware of how social media algorithms are programming us for their profit-at-any-cost advertising platforms. He notes, “While we think these platforms are connecting us to the world, they’re actually separating us from reality.” He then goes on to include this bombshell:
“When Facebook’s former director of monetization, Tim Kendall, was asked in our film what he was most worried about, he replied, ‘civil war.’ At the time that seemed alarmist, but today it feels prescient.”
The ring of truth. Still more: “The experts and tech insiders we interviewed in the film warned us about the dire consequences of letting Big Social play God.”
Orlowski concludes his column thus: “Our social media puppeteers also have a choice [reform or continue doing what they are doing]. Will they complacently watch their creation destroy democracies, or will they take responsibility for fixing the hate-filled mess they’ve made?”