If you lead a team or an organization, please pay attention to the film, The Social Dilemma (on Netflix).
Why? People you work with are impacted by the issues raised in this documentary. That means that your team is facing growing risks of
- eroding wellbeing
- decreased ability to innovate and
- declining effectiveness.
The Social Dilemma, a documentary released in the fall of 2020, highlights what we already know. Social media platforms are as addictive as slot machines and any other pastimes that deliver efficient dopamine hits.
On the flip side, these tools continue to enable positive cross border, human connection, and knowledge sharing at scale. Further, I don’t believe the developers and designers intended the negative consequences of this tech. However,
“Nothing vast enters the life of mortals without a curse,” wrote Sophocles.
The film’s narrative is compelling. It is delivered via interviews with former leaders from Facebook, Instagram, Google, Youtube, Firefox, Twitter, Pinterest, and other experts.
They highlight an existential threat to humanity. This threat is caused by the negative consequences which continue to rapidly multiply. These include:
- Increased mental health problems
- Addiction to electronic devices
- Increased isolation
- Fake news spurring negative behaviors
- Rise in unnecessary plastic surgery (due to body dysmorphia)
- Surveillance capitalism (loss of privacy)
- Increased disinformation and polarization
- Democracy at risk, elections hacked
- Erosion of our positive social fabric on how society works
These threats are detrimental to individuals. From a team and organizational standpoint, imagine the decline in collective employee wellbeing, innovation, and effectiveness.
“There are only two industries that call their customers users….illegal drugs and software,” Edward Tufte, Yale University
Quick Wins to Reduce Screen Overload
While we can certainly blame the business models for creating addictive technology, those models will not change quickly. Let’s hope that regulations to protect our wellbeing may eventually be put into place.
In the meantime, to protect ourselves, our families, and the wellbeing of our employees, we must take action as leaders and as people who care about human wellbeing.
Implement These To Do’s Today
- Turn off all notifications, on every app and email account.
- Remove apps from your phone that profit off of addiction, distraction, outrage, polarization, and misinformation (Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram).
- Download helpful tools such as Flux, Moment, News Feed Eradicator, Flipd, Insight Timer.
- Eliminate outrage from your diet.
a. Use iUnfollow to clean up outrage-chasing voices on Twitter.
b. Unfollow outrage driven Facebook Groups.
c. Remove sharply polarized media outlets, MSNBC & FOXNews, from your feed.
- Follow voices you disagree with. Try allsides.com;
- Be compassionate. Pause. Apply genuine curiosity and a desire to understand.
- Set boundaries.
b. Block times morning & evenings to be tech-free.
c. Have device-free dinners.
d. Create a shared charging station at home away from bedrooms overnight.
e. Buy an old fashioned alarm clock and wake up phone free.
- Fully disconnect one day per week.
- Remember the positive. Cultivate gratitude and share positive messages with others.
- Find your local newspapers and support them via the USNPL.com directory.
In closing, it is helpful to remember that addictive technology is not a tool. A tool, such as a banking app, a hammer, or bicycle is generally just sitting there. The tool waits patiently to be used.
If something is not a tool, it is demanding things from you (notifications), seducing (likes), manipulating (directing you elsewhere.)
“We no longer have a tools based environment, we have a manipulation based technology environment.
Social media is not a tool, it has its own goals and its own means of pursuing them by using your psychology against you.”
– Quotes from the film, The Social Dilemma
Notice which pieces of technology are your tools, and which are not.