Everyone by now knows of or has felt the ill-effects or downsides of social media and the internet age in some form, fashion and to some degree. So, there is no denying that there is a flip side to the good that social media has achieved. Instead, what days like today, Safer Internet Day, hope to achieve is awareness about these issues so that we can enjoy the upsides of the internet with comfort in the knowledge that we are being safe.

Through the whole of last year, as all of us were locked down and locked in, trying to make sense of the ‘new normal’, we comforted ourselves with entertainment, learning our way around our kitchens and finding new ways to connect with loved ones. We also learnt a lot while being entertained with pertinent documentaries like The Social Dilemma talking about the issues of social media straight from the people who helped build the different platforms we spend all our time on nowadays.

So, in a bid to succinctly put down the different truths from the horses’ mouths as they say, here are 8 of the biggest takeaways from the movie so you can be better informed and protect yourself.

1. Do A Cleanse

Uninstalling apps that are wasting your time or degrading your mental health is essential. Don’t give them mind space, whether they are social media apps, news apps or others.

2. Turn Off Notifications

Turn them off. Anything that keeps buzzing to get your attention, with information that isn’t timely or important to know right then and there, is not needed.

3. Find Alternatives That Respect Your Privacy

Whether it is Signal instead of Whatsapp or Qwant instead of Google, there are alternatives. Know that there are alternatives that are trying to change the game.

4. Stay Away From Recommendations

The experts say that you should resist the urge to pick a ‘recommended for you’ option on YouTube or anywhere else. Always choose for yourself. That is another way to fight the good fight against training algorithms to work against you. There are many browser extensions to remove recommendations altogether.

5. Check Your Sources

Before sharing any info on any platform, do your due diligence even if it takes extra time. Fact check always before spreading fake news so you can break the cycle. If a piece of information is rousing an emotional response, it’s probably designed to do so, so you should definitely do your own research.

6. Your Vote Is Your Click

If you click on clickbait, you are creating a financial incentive to perpetuate this current system.

7. Cast Your Net Wide

Another way to fight the good fight is to ensure you have lots of different information. Follow people that you don’t agree with, read different sites, not just ones that pander to your belief system so that you are exposed to a wider gamut of differing points of view.

8. Not For Children

No techie in Silicon Valley or anywhere else gives any of these devices to their children because they know the flip side to social media. Three rules for families struggling with limiting screen time that are mentioned in the movie are:

a. All devices out of the bedroom at a fixed time every night

b. No social media till high school

c. Work out a time-budget with your children

Ultimately, the goal as put forth by this eye-opening film is this: Critics are the true optimists because they question the status quo in order to make it better. And ultimately, all that they want is a space to have a meaningful conversation about the perils of social media without manipulation so that we can all find a better solution. On that note, Happy Safer Internet Day!

Have you seen The Social Dilemma? What are your thoughts on it? Please share it with us in the comments below!

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