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Social Dilemma: a movie about social media

In the movie ‘Social Dilemma’; Computer scientist Jaron Lanier says, “when you take money from a sponsor, you say, ‘Give me ten million dollars, and I will change the world one per cent in the direction you want it to change.'”

Yesterday I watched ‘Social Dilemma’ on YouTube because my friend Rosh shared the link. If Rosh shares a post, that means there is something worthy to watch. The 1:33 hr long docudrama cleared so much of my doubts that I watched the video in one sitting.

How many subscribers do you have?

The readers and potential collaboration partners of this website and YouTube channel keep asking the same question foremost on the first interaction. I could not give anyone a convincing reply because I did not answer the way they wanted me to reply.

In 2014, when I began blogging and YouTube channel, it was just a passion; there was no money-making intention. Initial readers and critics were friends, neighbours, colleagues and family members of the well educated middle class, either working in the public or private sectors, with some of them holding top positions on the corporate ladder, and others successful entrepreneurs. They used to say two things. Firstly, the information they got to know from this blog are new to them. Secondly, those not exposed to social media feared getting too much public attention if they liked, shared or commented on the articles.

If you believe that highly placed professionals are well-versed in social media, then you are wrong. 99.9% of the above mentioned initial readers did not understand what I was doing. Yet some of them liked my articles, thinking their every LIKE poured money into my account. Besides the word, ‘social media’ became part of commoner’s jargon only during the pandemic.

Those working in the IT field knew about social media only if their job profile demanded knowledge and expertise in the subject. While conversing with IT professionals, I found that they consumed content that appeared on the mobile screen. Social Dilemma discusses this habit of the youngsters in the movie. The corporate workers have stress-filled jobs; they read/watch the news between work breaks swallowing the content unquestioningly.

When the website started getting noticed, I decided to grow the website along with my freelance work. To develop the blog as a business, I had to get either subscribers or sponsors or both.

Readers feared that by subscribing online, their financial and personal details could get hacked. I agree with them; I don’t want them to do what I don’t do myself. As long as it is indispensable, I don’t subscribe or purchase any products online. I try to read and watch as much free content as possible.

There was no subscribe button on this website for a long time until some readers demanded one. Now there is one subscriber button on the right side of the page.

Therefore sponsorship was the next option; the readers did not have to worry about their privacy. Sponsors pay money to promote their products on the website—usually, sponsors lookout for partners with an audience to convert to potential buyers of the advertised products. For instance, if the product is sports items, they will look for websites in the sports niche that only discuss the sport.

Here I have a problem. Generally, in a lifestyle niche, the blogger share stories regarding daily living – Health, nutrition, fashion, travel, beauty, parenting and fitness stories. However, I mostly shared other people’s lifestyles in this genre, emphasising climate change, environment, pollution, and tradition.

The content I create promotes conservation, low carbon emission, rooting in tradition, slowing the pace of development and protecting the environment. There is no scope for selling any products.

Change the world one per cent

In the movie ‘Social Dilemma’; Computer scientist Jaron Lanier says, “when you take money from a sponsor, you say, ‘Give me ten million dollars, and I will change the world one per cent in the direction you want it to change.'” The content of this website is unlike the requirement of the sponsors. LifestyleTodayNews inspires the readers to lead a low consumerist lifestyle abiding by tradition.

You are the product

Tristan Harris, the former designer ethicist at Google, say in the award winning movie, “if you are not paying for the product, you are the product”— advertisers sponsor intending to keep people engaged on the screen. Nothing comes free in this world if it is human-made; Google search, and Facebook does not come free; the advertisers pay for it. “They pay for our attention.”

I am groping in the dark to find someone who would say I will pay you for publishing content that influences people to lead a lifestyle which is helpful to combat climate change. Climate change is a dull topic, for which very few websites and YouTube can get decent traffic.

When there is a calamity, people remember climate change and try to live eco-friendly. As time passes, comfort and convenience prioritise the necessity of leading a low carbon emission and environment-friendly lifestyle changes.

I have had discussions with Google about this website many times, and believe me, the google team consist of a beautiful bunch of well-meaning people.

Being a homemaker, let me give an example from my everyday life. I cook delicious foof for a family of four; I got a Food vlog to prove my point. When I cook for 10, it becomes a challenge, and sometimes things go wrong. I cannot imagine cooking for 20, which needs much entrepreneurship. I respect all the big brands who give the same ambience, taste, and experience from all their outlets. As a regular cook for 4, I know how difficult it is to deliver the same taste, freshness and nutrition for ten people. If someone can provide same quality food to millions of customers worldwide, they have a successful business model.

Google, Facebook, Instagram all have a successful business model that provides refreshing entertainment and easy to digest content for the users. People watch content they enjoy; they don’t want content that is bitter to swallow or hard to digest. So now the most delicious trending foods are crispy, oily, crunchy, soft, sweet and sour – you get recipes online which shows how to cook bitter gourd less bitter.

Business models should focus on including the bitter truths in life because whether we like it or not, Human activities are taking a toll on this planet. Earth is getting warmer, the lands are becoming barren, and desertification is increasing. We need to make the people understand that bitterness, toiling lifestyle and shunning some comforts in life is the latest trend in the world.

We need a paradigm shift in thinking because there is no other option. Earth is demanding such a change from humans.

The Social Dilemma movie answers many of your queries regarding social networking. The takeaway message that I got from the movie is to tell potential supporters, “Give me ten million dollars so that I can influence the minds of people in the direction that the Earth wants them to change so as to save mankind from disappearing from the face the earth.”

Ancy Abraham
Blogger, Nature Lover and Cooking Enthusiast. Worked as a Magazine Assistant Editor for a Consumer Magazine. Presently writing about lifestyle topics related to health, food, shopping, fashion and people for Lifestyle Today News for the past 6 years. Also, volunteering as UN Volunteer News Editor for Climate Change News. Mentored around 18 Youth News Writers, passionate about Climate Change activities, from different parts of the world Nominated to attend COP26 as Observer. #COP26glasgow

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