by Brittany McSorley
When you work in social media marketing on Cape Cod, it’s easy to see the benefits of social media — not just for marketing purposes, but in terms of fostering community, sharing information, and simply keeping in touch with one another during these challenging times. The pros are many, but it’s become clearer and clearer in recent years that the social media apparatus comes with cons as well, cons that deserve our attention.
Enter The Social Dilemma, a Netflix documentary released in January that “may be the most important documentary you see this year” (Los Angeles Times), “should be mandatory viewing for everyone who has a social media account,” (San Francisco Chronicle), and “is remarkably effective in sounding the alarm about the incursion of data mining and manipulative technology into our social lives and beyond” (New York Times). The doc has been in the press a lot lately, and needless to say, watching it is an enormous bummer. But it really is a must-see for anyone with a social media account; it’s incredibly informative about social media giants that have gone almost completely unregulated since the whole concept took off.
If you’d like to develop a deeper understanding of the intricacies of social media, we recommend The Social Dilemma along with these other documentaries about the online world:
Catfish (2010): One of the earliest documentaries about the social media age, Catfish taught us all a crucial lesson: It is not difficult to lie online.
Terms and Conditions May Apply (2013): Seven years ago, this documentary delivered a similar message to that of The Social Dilemma — basically, that corporations are enjoying unfettered access to everyone who uses the internet. The data we create with our online activity is incredibly valuable, and it’s being collected more quickly and effectively all the time. Time to stop ignoring the fine print.
#chicagoGirl: The Social Network Takes on a Dictator (2013): One serious benefit of social media? We can see what’s going on outside of our own immediate environment. This doc follows a group of activists who used Facebook and YouTube to expose and fight back against human rights abuses in Syria.
Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World (2016): This Werner Herzog film explores the history of the internet, the future of the internet, and just how much its existence has affected life for human beings. Is having limitless information at our fingertips amazing? Of course, but the nature of our interconnected world has also drastically changed the way we behave.
Audrie & Daisy (2016): We’ve all heard of “cyberbullying,” but this documentary takes a closer look at the phenomenon, examining the brutal consequences of harmful rhetoric spread on social media. It’s a difficult but important watch.
The Great Hack (2019): Social media played a key role in foreign interference efforts during the 2016 election. This documentary explains how it happened.
Though some of these films may make you want to go off the grid and live in the woods, for businesses today, social media marketing is a must. While online marketing is definitely here to stay, it’s important to remember: to navigate social media effectively, whether for marketing purposes or personal use, it’s critical to understand just how these platforms work, both for and against us.