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Could you survive a week without social media?

Could you survive a week without social media

A Netflix original documentary, The Social Dilemma, explores the dangerous impact of social media and how we are being manipulated. I was first introduced to the documentary by a friend, who had told me that it made them want to “lock away” all her devices.

Consequently, I was intrigued to see why this documentary had such a powerful impact on her. Therefore, I decided I had to watch it. The documentary portrays multiple tech experts, who formally worked for companies such as twitter and google, explaining what they witnessed while they worked there, and the effects the algorithms have had on society.

After watching this documentary, my eyes had been opened to topics that I am exposed to everyday, such as fake news. We are all aware of fake news, however we tend to get lost in deciphering whether what we read is fake or not. How can we tell the difference between the two? And why do we tend to believe fake news so easily? This leads to the most terrifying part of this documentary, which is where they explain how the algorithms for social media apps are using our data to control what we see and providing us with content that they know we will be unable to resist.

Furthermore, algorithms use information such as our search history to determine our opinions on certain topics. Therefore, they use this information to drag us down a rabbit hole of content that feeds our opinions, which holds the power to influence and change our original opinions. This indicates to why we’ve become so impressionable and easily influenced. Algorithms may have been created by us, but now it seems they’ve developed a mind of their own and we’ve lost control.

As a result of watching this documentary, I decided that I would try to go an entire week without social media. I committed to the challenge by deleting all my social media apps off my phone for an entire week. Ultimately, I believe this week benefitted me greatly since I was more efficient and I had eliminated most of my distractions, I was no longer tempted to check my phone for constant updates like I had been trained to do by the algorithms. On the other hand, as a teenage girl being connected with my friends and being updated on what people post on social media is a huge aspect of my life and I felt very disconnected for a while. I was missing out on what people were posting about their lives and I couldn’t use these posts to create conversation, which worried me.

“although the intention of the algorithms are corrupt, the effect on me can be highly positive”

Also, I noticed how much I rely on social media to boost my mood, since I became quite ill at the beginning of the week and I was unable to watch tiktoks that made me laugh or watch Instagram stories to inform me of what my friends were up to, which was a very alien feeling to me and I began to think that although the intention of the algorithms are corrupt, the effect on me can be highly positive sometimes.

In conclusion, throughout the week I learned to enjoy not being on my phone and since I re-downloaded all my social media apps, I haven’t been using them as obsessively as I was before. Therefore, I would recommend that everyone tries to fulfil a social media detox and recognise that we don’t need to rely on social media as much as we’ve been programmed to believe we do.

By Isobel Lampard

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