EPIK was invited to host a session for the 2020 DigCitSummit, which was a 24-hour virtual event this year.
The session plan was altered after The Social Dilemma started to get more attention. As EPIK's mission is centered on facilitating conversations, we felt it would be valuable to model a possible way to have a discussion about this documentary; the information shared in this film is relevant not just for personal wellness but also to invite more informed discussions about protecting democracy and standing for a more informed citizenry all over the world.
We were thrilled to have two youth participate in the session. They have been involved with a youth-driven organization called LookUp. (See more about the LookUp Challenge, the LookUp Blog with Youth Articles and LookUp's YouTube Channel.)
You can watch the DigCitSummit session here.
We found The Social Dilemma compelling because people who have actually participated in creating social media technologies are the ones sounding the alarms, including a former Google ethicist, one of the key people who made the "Like" button, a former president of Facebook, former engineers for other social media platforms, and people from various other sectors (health, technology investment, and more).
We at EPIK were already familiar with Tristan Harris' work (Center for Humane Technology, formerly the "Time Well Spent" movement) through collaborations on the DigCitSummit that we hosted in 2017. But this documentary shed a great deal of light on the complex issues that exist living in world largely driven by social and other media.
In addition to The Social Dilemma, we would invite you to watch interviews with Tristan or the director, Jeff Orlowski. Or see Tristan's TED talk from 2017. (A couple of possible video links include this interview with Tristan and this interview with Tristan and Jeff. Links do not necessarily imply endorsement of the shows, but these interviews give a good glimpse into some key points made in the documentary.)
There are many more conversations to have (including about the importance of media literacy education), but having a shared point of reference like this documentary can be helpful, especially because there are so many things about which we are divided. Perhaps we can find some unity around the understanding about how manipulated all our lenses on the world really are.
As is almost always the case, you will see that youth often bring perspectives to the conversation that adults may not think about or have experiences with. We urge adults to engage with you as they talk about these important issues.
In this panel discussion, our panelists were asked the following questions. We encourage you to watch and discuss the documentary and engage in similar discussions in your sphere.
1-What personal takeaway will you walk away with? What might you stop or start in your life because of the knowledge you have gained
2-In other roles you might have (professional, educational, service-oriented, faith-based), how can knowledge gained help you engage your role with more awareness and deliberateness?
3- In a 'Social Dilemma' world, how can we be more deliberate citizens, in our personal spheres, in local spheres, in global spheres (as one of the youth noted, our choices can and do have influence globally even if we don't realize it), and in digital spheres?
Many thanks to our panelists (bios below). Be sure to take a look at the work they have done, and especially take note of the free LookUp.live Youth 4 Youth Summit that is happening this weekend on October 24.
Panelists for this DigCitSummit session included:
Sophie E. has been involved in LookUp.live for three years. She co-founded the first high school tech mindfulness club. This club spearheaded “LookUp Challenges” at the high school level and is now focused on unification against screen addiction. Sophie is currently working on her Girl Scout Gold Award with LookUp.live. She is helping expand its accessibility to schools across the country with more widely available resources.
See more of Sophie's work on cancel culture and the LookUp Challenge
See more of Alexa's work:
Susan Reynolds has over 20 years of experience in digital wellbeing, mindfulness and youth leadership. In 2019 she co-founded LookUp.live, a nonprofit sparking a social movement among Gen Z to discover and implement their own solutions to combat digital overload and 24/7 connectivity for Susan Reynolds has over 20 years of experience in digital wellbeing, mindfulness and youth leadership. In 2019 she co-founded LookUp.live, a nonprofit sparking a social movement among Gen Z to discover and implement their own solutions to combat digital overload and 24/7 connectivity for greater tech/life balance and improved mental health. Susan teaches, speaks, leads workshops and facilitates panels to educate and empower Gen Z to find and implement their own solutions to the detrimental aspects of social media and digital distraction. As a speaker at conferences in Copenhagen, London, and Toronto, she's brought her mission to a global audience. Since graduating with a BA from Dartmouth College and M.Ed from Tufts University, Susan brings her commitment to inspiring youth to thrive and design solutions for a healthier and more humane digital world.
See more about the upcoming free LookUp Youth 4 Youth Summit!
LookUp.live discovers and incubates youth driven solutions for tech/life balance.
Apply for a LookUp StartUp Grant
EPIK wanted to give a shout-out to the Digital Wellness Collective for helping us connect with LookUp.live. We encourage you to watch the cross-sector panel discussion they held a few weeks ago on The Social Dilemma, which expands conversations to talk about the impact of social media and AI algorithms on issues related to race and equality. (Embedded video is set at the starting point of that part of the conversation, although we encourage watching the whole panel.)