Communications and Media Studies Department connects with students via Netflix Party movie premiere

By Megan Loock

Elm Staff Writer

On Oct. 2, the Communications and Media Studies Department hosted a screening of the recent documentary-drama hybrid “The Social Dilemma” via Netflix Party. 

Netflix Party allows simultaneous streaming, meaning that play and pause are universal. There is a chat window on the right-hand side that allows users to chat and react to the movie without interfering with the video chat. 

Netflix Party is not exclusive to films, allowing users to stream shows as a group as well. 

“The Social Dilemma” explores the “dangerous human impact of social networking, with tech experts sounding the alarm on their own creations,” according to the Netflix description. 

While the film is appropriate for all audiences, it aims its argument to persuade teenagers and parents to be wary of social media use. The actors of the drama portion of the film portray a family with children of varying ages, genders, and personalities to illustrate social media’s vast impact on their lives away from the phone screen. 

Assistant Professor of Communications and Media Studies Dr. Meghan Grosse later defined this phenomenon as tech determinism, in which technology determines the development of its social structure and cultural values. 

The event was supposed to start at 7 p.m., but was delayed by a half an hour due to technology problems with the Netflix Party link. 

Nevertheless the tech problems were fixed and attendees were able to watch the movie, which caused some of them to rethink their own social media use. 

“This movie is going to make me delete everything,” senior Ally Melvin said, referring to her social media accounts. 

While the event was attended primarily by Communications and Media Studies majors, the movie sheds valuable light on how social media has a bigger impact on our lives than one might think. 

The movie focuses on the acute awareness social media platforms possess to tailor to our own interests. It also asserts that social media has unbeknownst control over teenagers, presenting these social corporations as the antagonist. 

While some attendees seemed to respond positively to the documentary’s argument, others were skeptical as to how far the documentary went to persuade its audience. 

“This documentary is definitely playing into the myth that the ‘newness’ of technology makes it impossible to control,” Dr. Grosse said. 

Despite all its seriousness, attendees were able to find some solace poking fun at the acting from the drama actors. 

“The acting in this is… a whole thing,” Dr. Grosse said. 

Regardless of their position on the film’s argument, attendees’ engagement throughout the film helped to demonstrate its current social relevance and, caused many to rethink their own social media use.

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