Documentary Double Dip – The Social Dilemma (2020) & My Octopus Teacher (2020)

The Social Dilemma 

This was an informative and insightful look at social media, everyday technology constructs, and their potential destructive power.  

Thanks to contributions from several former high-ranking executives and creatives across the tech industry, this documentary pulls back the curtain on how the biggest social media platforms in the world prey on the loopholes of human psychology in the name of financial gain. 

At this point, most adults know about data-mining and just accept it as part of their daily lives. However, the ways in which these companies appear to use that data to shape our behaviors are far more troubling.  Sadly, it isn’t adults who bear the largest brunt.  The statistical information also indicates higher rates of depression among youths since the onset of social media on mobile platforms. Suicide rates have climbed, right along with depression, at a staggering rate over the last decade. 

Beyond its informative and cautionary approach, the film locks in on the question of whether or not social media is actually good for us and calls for sweeping regulatory reform in the tech industry. 

Recommendation: Everyone should watch this. Even if you don’t use social media, there’s valuable knowledge about how and why algorithms use our data against us. It’s the not best documentary in terms of pure filmmaking, but it more than makes up for that with the substance of its narrative.

My Octopus Teacher

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be friends with an octopus? Well, that’s exactly what you get with this documentary. This is an incredible look at the natural world with some subtext about our place and our responsibility to it.

Craig Foster had fallen into a depression. As a filmmaker, the pressure had gotten to him and he needed a hard reset. So, he set started snorkeling off the coast of South Africa to help him reconnect with nature. In the process, he came across a small octopus that lived in a kelp forest and he decided to start observing the delicate creature. 

Over the course of several weeks, Foster watched the traditionally solitary creature with stationary cameras. Through those observations and personal research, he was able to develop a routine and eventually establish trust with the small octopus. 

Slowly, the two began to interact with one another directly and Foster learned first hand that octopi are far more intelligent animals than science has given them credit for. 

I’ve seen some very interesting scientific footage of their behavior but the stuff he managed to capture is astonishing. The behaviors exhibited over the course of about a year paint a much different picture of the social constructs of the species. Through his relationship with the fragile sea-creature, Foster opened his heart and mind learned more about himself in the process.

Recommendation: Nature enthusiasts will love this, but it’s got a wonderful message for the average person also. If you’ve ever wondered about your place in the natural world, this documentary tackles that question head-on.

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