The Social Dilemma & Why You Should Look at Your Social Media Use.

The Social Dilemma is a documentary from Netflix that explores the damage of social media within our culture. Driven by the work of Tristan Harris, it brings together former creators of social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google for a scary examination of what their work has created.

The documentary itself is very interesting, but there is nothing flash about it. It’s very up front and on the nose with what it is trying to tell you. There is a dramatic story to help illustrate it’s message, but it wasn’t needed.

What it does do well is get you to think about how you use media, or how you think you ‘use’ it. The scariest part of the documentary is how they explain that what was once a conscious choice to take in what our friends and family are doing is now a trap that actually decides for you.

The driving forces behind growth, engagement and monetisation all talk about how they built machines to predict our behaviour to deliver content in the ‘smartest‘ way. Put simply they would show is what we needed to stay looking at their page. This in turn keeps us engaged and drives in revenue through advertisements.

The fact that this is so close to Westworld season 3 doesn’t bode well, is you’re suspicious at all.

Why Should You Consider Your Usage?

What I couldn’t help but agree with when watching this documentary is that everything they said throughout, I was nodding along to. Do I check my phone before anything when I wake up? Yes. Do I scroll endlessly and refresh my feeds? Yes. Have I been caught in a rabbit hole on Youtube? Yes.

Do I also notice how easily social media can influence our culture and society? Absolutely, and in truth it’s scary. Fake news is liable to travel 6 times quicker than the genuine story. Through social medias fanning of the flames we eat up any dramatic story but don’t question it’s source.

Have you ever read something, that sounds ridiculous and not even questioned it, maybe even shared it? Once we are aware of this, people with money and influence are able to use this, almost weaponize it for gain.

Radical ideas and groups are able to grow exponentially through social media’s precise predicting and targeting. An algorithm doesn’t choose between radical ideas and wholesome content. Their systems are designed to learn everything about you. How you go about your usage on Google, Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Twitter and more is your true identity.

Feed this into a computer that is able to calculate billions of formula before you can blink and the result is that you’ll only ever come across content that you don’t realise you’re looking for.

If you use google in a different location, the results will change to suit the current culture. This works with extremely serious matters such as elections. If you go to place that votes in a certain way, you’ll see content to help make you see the same way as everyone else in your area, without knowing, social media is assuming the role of a Shepard.

There’s a much, much darker side.

Not only is social media feeding you content based on your behaviour and their needs to make billions in revenue, it’s becoming a leading cause in mental health issues.

The very nature of my Instagram, this blog, my Twitter is designed to drive in likes and engagement. I’d love to have more engagement than the 10 I got on Wednesday. Fortunately for me, I can brush this off. Every time I write I’m learning more, every post is out there but I’m used to it drifting off into an ocean without any fish to bite on it.

So for me, I wouldn’t say the impacts of social media are detrimental, it only reinforced what I already know, I’m never really part of a conversation, I’m just outside of it.

Unfortunately for millions more, that ‘like’ button is worth much, much more to them. In fact, it’s more or less what will dictate their behaviour and mental wellbeing. For those that are born from 1996 onwards are most likely impacted. That means that about now the majority of them are starting to shape our society by taking those roles in finance, politics, IT, the Army, science, health and way more.

What we have done to them is make them so anxious that their life is judged by likes and positive reinforcement that where it is not supplied they are being unbalanced and they struggle to find any self worth. They aren’t able to use their brilliant minds to help make a difference in society. Their kind souls aren’t making friends and helping the lives around them. Instead they’re jumping off bridges, cutting their wrists because a stranger from Taiwan called them ugly on their phone.

The rate of suicide has increased by over 150% in some age groups from as little as 11 years old. Growing up with depression and anxiety wasn’t common with my friends, family or anyone I came into contact with.

Since then we have put in time and effort to not only understand it more but we’ve seen it spread everywhere, it’s about the same rate as social medias growth, and the coincidence is there for everyone to see.

Black Mirror have done an episode that is essentially this take on society. ‘Nosedive’ is the one to check out, it’s pretty good objectively.

I’ve been at my place of work and seen people post pictures then delete them because there’s not enough interaction and then seen attempts 2 and 3 at different times later in the day, until they have satisfied their own need for attention.

This is just one, simple way that Instagram, for example, is able to dictate someones behaviour, mood and emotions. It’s in their power to reach out to as many people to dictate how many will like the content.

What the likes does is also double edged. The user (the only other industry to call its customers users) needs a number of likes to satisfy themselves. But by doing that they’re also putting it out there as a sort of bench mark that damages others. That like number is a weapon that you don’t realise you’re firing.

What Can You Do?

Switch off. It sounds so simple but we’re triggered by the same chemicals we are with any other form of addiction. The best thing you can do is limit your usage. Whether that’s to time of the day or a set amount of hours.

Question your content. Have you found the source of what you’re taking in. Is it credible and is it true? A quick search through various other places will soon point you in the right direction.

Does it matter to you? What we often find is we follow a bunch of people/ accounts that mean nothing to us but we don’t get rid of it. This is where more of that targeted posts are coming from. Filter through what you’re choosing to take in so you can take in less of what you don’t choose.

Consider your privacy. The default options for privacy are usually pretty open so that they can be used openly by the developers. Does this suit you, make sure you lockdown how much you share.

Only post positively. There’s nothing to be gained by ‘shitposting’ anywhere. Putting someone down will not lift you up. It’s never worked that way and it doesn’t on social media. it doesn’t matter if it’s someone with 10 followers or a celebrity with millions, everyone reads it.

As social media has grown, we’ve let it take over and filter into every aspect of our lives. Without realising it knows more about us than anyone, or anything possibly could do in the same amount of time.

Being conscious of your time on social media can make a massive difference. Being positive and making sure the content you take in is the content you wanted and not rabbits on skateboards at 3am.

Be mindful of those around you and check in on them. You don’t know how their recent post could have impacted them. Support your friends that believe likes are more important than air. Make sure you’re in control of your own media because it has the power to do so much greatness.

All the facts and figures in the post come from The Social Dilemma documentary and their website

The Umbrella Academy Season 2

The Umbrella Academy Season 2 dropped for us on Friday just gone (July 31). As one of the more anticipated seasons to come out this year, this season lives up to the expectation and hype.

Reflecting back on season 1 I really enjoyed it as an alternative comic book/hero take. It brought a freshness mixed with maturity and story telling to carve it’s own little space in the over saturated market.

It ended with the team (known as the Umbrella Academy once upon a time) being cast back in time to avoid an apocalypse.

Season 2 picks up immediately where season 1 finished. In fact its one of the best scenes within the season (don’t worry we don’t peak early like a Lindsay Lohan career). It sees the gang back together all super’d up to prevent World War 3 in 1963. This is quickly ended when Nukes across the world go off and end the world, again and everyone is dead.

At the centre seems to be Five (Aidan Gallagher). Five seems to be mixed with time travel and at war with The Commission (like the Doctor Who’s of the world) that seems to end in catastrophe every time.

To try and prevent the next apocalypse Five travels back 10 days prior the end of the world to find his family and prevent the events, all over again. Problem is, his family didn’t land in the 1960’s together.

Throughout the seasons early episodes we see how each member landed at different points in time and adjusted to their new lives. Klaus (Robert Sheehan) had become a leader of a peace cult, Diego (David Castaneda) was convinced he needed to save Kennedy from being assassinated and locked up for it, Vanya (Ellen Paige) was on a farm after being hit by a car, Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman) was married and a political activist for Black Lives and Luther (Tom Hopper) was an underground boxer working for a crime lord.

Their new lives provided us with much better characters than we saw in season 1. They worked off others to give us more of their development and a look inside their thoughts more. This only adds to the shows world building and our attachment to the characters.

We begin to learn about their vulnerabilities and their motivations. It’s here that the conflict of saving the world and returning from the 60’s isn’t in everyone’s best interests. Many of the family are happy, much to Five’s unhappiness. Five hadn’t considered that some had been in the 60’s for years compared to his days.

Saving the world isn’t so easy for Five. We learn that the assassination of Kennedy and their father seem to be involved in starting World War 3, so he and Diego (and a few others) begin to track down a younger version of their dad to find out what the fuck is going on.

Reginald (Colm Feore) is still a dick, seems he always has been and will be. However we see what he was like before being a mentor (more than a father) to the children. We see he’s shady, mysterious, powerful and how even now he has control over the kids through his years or mental manipulation.

The bar certainly seems to have been raised and met.

As the season moves on we’re treated to some excellent plots and sub plots. We see how each characters lives are bigger than they seem. As the apocalypse draws nearer the events get worse, for everybody. The bar certainly seems to have been raised for this season and it has been met. The series writer Steve Blackman has done an exceptional job.

The story moves at a pace you enjoy, the set pieces of action and violence are well handled and the sombre moments are given the attention they need. The chemistry between the cast is great and shines through. The humour works and feels natural with Tom Hopper leading the way, mostly.

One of the best introductions however is Ritu Arya. She plays a character called Lila that we meet when Diego is in a mental treatment facility. Seemingly a throwaway character she attaches herself to Diego and some of the family to help them prevent the apocalypse. As we begin to learn more about her we see how much of the plot is built around her.

She has great energy and brings a sassy style of humour, something that’s been missing. She also balances out the gender power as most of the male characters feel powerful next to the females.

All in all season 2 is well written, acted, paced, scored and it is refreshing. It builds a lot on what season 1 set in place but for the most part it only adds to it. As a comic book TV series its up there with the best of them, but don’t think it’s like the rest.

Le Casa de Papel (Money Heist) Review

The Spanish Crime Drama has been an international success and for good reason. This captivating telling of multiple bank heists is TV done right.

An iconic look known all over the world from this show.

First off, if you haven’t watch La Casa de Papel it advertises itself in parts. This is actually seasons. I was told initially it was 2 parts and was like, great a few hours and I’m sorted. Then I realise part 1 is 13 episodes…

Mind you, finding out there was like 21 episodes to watch at the time was great, as I was already hooked.

There’s something about this show that draws you in. Whether its the characters, the back stories, the planning or the actual heist, something keeps you.

That’s how this show is told, everything at the same time. We see the heist of the Royal Mint at the same time we see the planning. It runs in a parallel. Amongst all of this we’re learning about these characters that we initially only know as cities they have chosen as their names.

The exception is the Professor (Alvaro Morte). He orchestrates the whole thing, together with Berlin (Mint Heist) and Palermo (Royal Bank Heist). With each heist they use the same cast of misfits.

The first we meet is Tokio (Ursula Corbero). My favourite character of them all. She is the narrator of the whole thing, keeping you in check with what is going on. She’s feirce, vulnerable, a badass and generally a leader throughout it all. In many ways the whole show is her story, or at least from her perspective.

Tokio .

She forms a relationship with the Professor who she calls her guardian angel. Together they work with Rio, Denver, Moscu, Nairobi, Helsinki and some others here and there. Each with a distinctly different role but the same aim.

As the seasons play out so do the heists. These are expertly clever and almost believable. The immersion for this show is brilliant. It’s only when we get to part 2 that things seem to get a bit dramatic but that’s also the charm.

The relationships during the heist are brilliant. It’s stressful, tense and exciting all at the same time. While they’re in the heist the idea is to become heroes of Spain.

This is where the show is clever in it’s telling of the story. The police are naturally never in charge during the heist, however it may seem. Raquel (Itziar Ituno), the head of the police lets call her, and the Professor seemingly play a chess match the whole time, but it’s like the Professor has seen the match already.

All the while you’re rooting for the guys in the masks all while they’re committing the biggest crime Spain has seen. The masks have become a symbol that is iconic within the show as much as it is outside of the show. Moreover during the heist you’re rooting for the smaller stories. Those relationships and events that are happening throughout the season between these characters.

It’s stressful, tense and exciting all at the same time.

One rule of the heist is to not talk about the heist, okay its not, it’s actually not to form any personal relationships, hence the nicknames. That was always an unlikely rule to be kept and it’s for the better.

Seasons 3 and 4 really build on this and provide heart warming and heart breaking moments as the events play out. I’m still not sure I’m over a certain event.

Neither season is packing loads of action or missing any details. They’re both well balanced in terms of characters and story.

The show isn’t without its draw backs. Each heist is over 2 parts that can feel a bit drawn out, especially the second heist as it’s yet to be concluded. There’s naturally some characters we wish weren’t in it but it wouldn’t be a good show without them.

When the action does get a little bit out of hand it does break the immersion a little bit and you remember this isn’t actually real life.

Overall, I believe this is a must watch. I know some people may not like foreign TV but this is worth getting used to. Either dubbing or subtitles are worth using. The dubbing is well voice acted.

It’s easily a top 5 Netflix show for me. Maybe I’ll do that list soon? Check out my Instagram to see that!

Stole my attention / 10

Uncut Gems Review

Much like the title this really is an uncut and unpolished gem. It really is a bit of a mess and wasn’t deserving of an Oscar.

Adam Sandler surprised everyone when he released his out of character crime drama on Netflix.

Naturally this garnered a lot of attention as to what was Sandler thinking.

The film quickly started to gain praise for its story and portrayal.

All of a sudden it was found amidst award nominations that Sandler wasn’t humble about.

Checking out this film I had high expectations but was ultimately let down.

Uncut Gems follows the events that unfold when Sandlers main character Howard manages to get his hands on a precious uncut Opal from an Ethiopian mine.

With this discovery he hopes to make a lot of money and finally settle all his debts. Not your typical debts, he’s a fucking moron that deals in dodgy business.

It’s all a bit of a mess.

Part of my confusion came when I realised how much he owed to one particular party, $100,000. Yet he appears to own an apartment in New York and a nice family home, a nice car and care for his 3 children.

How could this dodgy del boy really still have any money. His reputation seems to proceed him but he is still able to deal amongst the elite?

Before he is able to sensibly sell on the gem he’s acquired he agrees to let NBA start Kevin Garret look after it who then believes in it spiritually as he performs better.

Mix that in to the people after Howard, his affair and his gambling addiction and its all a bit of a mess. And that’s how I found this film a mess.

It seems looking around that’s what people liked about this film, that its difficult to follow and it really works in Sandler’s favour. I however thought the opposite.

I never struggled to keep up, but I struggled to stay invested. Howard isn’t a likeable character, in fact, no one is. The film ends, and I kind of thought, what’s the point? Nothing is explained, so don’t be looking for answers.

Sandler gains praise, but I honestly thought he’s still same old Sandler, just without any jokes. I’m glad he never won an Oscar. Julia Fox was good throughout and I hope it breaks her into further roles. Idina Menzel had nothing special to work with.

All in all there are some good parts to this film and you do wonder how badly it all ends. Sandler does have another trick up his sleeve, but it’s unlikely we’ll ever see it again. I think with some better direction this film would be a extraordinary crime film. [Insert joke about crime and my time].

After Life Review

The Ricky Gervais Netflix original has just aired its second season, so what’s the deal with this emotional telling of grief?

You could be forgiven for hearing that the British comedian and part time actor, known for his sarcastic commentary on this world, has written and directed a new series and you’d rather miss it, thank you very much.

Seasons 1 and 2 now showing on Netflix

But here’s why maybe, just maybe you should take a (small 12 x 30 minute episodes in total) amount of time to give it a chance.

After Life is a simple concept, how do we cope with grief? It centres around an early 50’s character named Tony that recently lost his wife to Breast Cancer. In a P.S I Love You style she left him a video telling him not to be the, how do I say this, grumpy old man (she uses a not so nice ‘C’ word i’d rather not include), that he inevitably will become.

“It will make you laugh and cry in equal measure”

If you’ve lost anyone or know anyone who’s been through cancer, grab some tissues.

Does he listen? Does he fuck. She asks him to do one thing. Since Lisa departed Tony has taken the opportunity to say whatever he would like because being nice doesn’t get you anywhere. Throughout Tony talks about the want to kill himself and would have, if it weren’t for his dog. He refers to this like a superpower because if he ever went to far, he’d commit suicide and that would be that.

Once we get past the establishment that Tony is played by Ricky Gervais the show begins to let us into his life. We see his job, the regular people he meets and what he’s been not getting up to. The cast are charming and full of people you mostly recognise for one reason or another.

Tony and Anne – Something in common

Its an honest as possible take that suits Ricky down to a tee. His comedy works because he explains why ‘its like a superpower‘. You excuse his behaviour, when once you may have found it not so funny or original.

The humour is consistent but not overbearing and its balanced by the emotions Ricky displays when he explains why everything is so painful. The lowest parts come when he is watching his old videos of Lisa, dealing with drugs or alcohol and seeing his Father in a care home. You’re sad for someone that used to be so happy.

“A charming slice of village life”

Tony impacts all the characters he meets and takes several steps of development in grief in season 1.In season 2 he realises its too far and dials back to his comfort zone but is less of a dick to everyone around him.

I wouldn’t expect too much of the other characters or development. They’re likable and we get to know them slightly but not attached. This can be frustrating as throughout season 2 Tony does get ever so slightly tiresome (we get it you’re Ricky Gervais and Tony is sad).

Just as you start to feel this way you’re reminded of why Tony is like this or the show shares another video and charms you in a sad kind of way.

Overall After Life does a very good job of letting you into one mans journey through grief and trying to move on. its a charming slice of a little village life and what loss can do to you and those around you.

It will make you cry and laugh in equal measure.

Definitely going to TV heaven out of 10.

p.s If you’re struggling with anything please, please reach out. We should all take care of ourselves and each other at all stages of our life. Some people do some great work for example Samaritans or Mind.