The dark side of technology

Written by Student Reporter (Priskila Ranindhita Hapsari, Management 2022)

  • The technology that connects us also tears us apart. There are always consequences of our actions as a famous quote from Sophocles stated, “Nothing vast enters the life of mortals without a curse.” The film The Social Dilemma unravels modern-day problems on how society is exposed to technological threats every day, everywhere.

    The film shows the dark side of social media. Recent news gathered a number of problems humanity is facing from technology. In the documentary, Tristan Harris, Co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology, introduced how social media influences the cacophony of grievances and scandals, data stealing, fake news, polarization, elections getting hacked, and most of all, addiction towards electronic devices. 

    As Google’s former design ethicist, Tristan Harris explained how these social media companies work behind the screen and their goals to keep users engaged in online activities as these companies monetize them. These online services are powered by algorithms which are a design technique programmed to modify our psychology. According to Sandy Parakilas, a former employee at Facebook and Uber, our information is sent to a system with no human supervision. “As humans, we’ve almost lost control over these systems as they have a mind of their own,” Parakilas elaborated, “they’re controlling us more than we’re controlling them.” This being said, algorithm technologies are getting better at predicting who we are and they have the capability to alter our mindset and behavior.

    Referring to research on the increase of teen depression, social psychologist, Jonathan Haidt, proclaimed that the impacts on the human mind are critical, especially when more children are now exposed to the internet. What’s more terrifying is that the US suicide rates show the same pattern where per 1,000,000 girls, it increased by 70 for preteen girls. “This whole generation is more anxious, more fragile, and more depressed,” Haidt concluded. 

    Instagram is currently the most used platform among SBM students with hours spent on it on a daily basis. Zia Ulhaq, SBM ITB (International Management – 2022) student, mentioned that he spends one-third of his day on Youtube and Instagram where he checks on political updates, browsing study tutorials, and aimless scrolling through his feed. Upon knowing how these social media companies objectify us for money, he said, “You have to sacrifice something in order to receive something, I give the required data and they give required service.” In his opinion, SBM students are prone to be exposed to hoax and cyberbullying through social media. Our activities on social media could be somewhat dangerous as he believes that it could change people’s perspectives and turn them against each other. “Social media can certainly influence the students in SBM, it’s just a matter of whether they use it for their knowledge or to feed their boredom,” Zia expressed. 

“We built these things so we have a responsibility to change it but not everybody recognizes this as a problem,” Tristan stated as the film came to an end. 

So what can we do?

Social media and technology experts gave some suggestions for us to implement and change our tech habits, some of the few mentioned are:

  1. Use Qwant instead of Google as Qwant does not store your search history data
  2. Do not accept YouTube recommended videos and clickbait
  3. Turn off timely unimportant notifications
  4. Uninstall unnecessary news apps or apps that waste your time
  5. Remove Google Chrome extensions to lessen ads and recommendations
  6. Fact-check news to verify its validity and make sure it isn’t fake news
  7. Be more exposed to different points of views 
  8. Limit children to use social media as the preferred age for social media usage is 16 years old
  9. Spread more awareness concerning the impacts of social media