It’s no secret that today, social media has become an intrinsic part of our lives. From Instagram videos to Facebook likes, we have started believing in a world run by ‘online validation’. But while we believe it to be nothing more than a frivolous way to pass time, it’s effects are far-reaching, and more importantly, not entirely harmless. 

Almost 20 years ago, Sandra Bullock starrer, cyber mystery thriller, The Net had appeared intriguing but far-fetched. But, as these documentaries and shows prove, the reality today is far too close to the fiction we once enjoyed: 

1. The Great Hack: Netflix

Netflix’s latest documentary exposes the role of the now-defunct data communications company Cambridge Analytica in the Trump vs. Clinton US presidential election. A deeper exposure is on how, the data for millions of Facebook users was harnessed – without their explicit consent – to manipulate their voting decision. Simply put, a fair democratic process – across nations – is no longer a reality today. 


2. Fyre: Netflix

What was supposed to be the biggest, most exclusive, ‘millennial festival’, turned into a shitshow (there really is no other way to say it) – because of utter and complete mismanagement. More importantly, Fyre showed the negative side of ‘influencer promotion’ – where a lack of accountability, and a manipulative entrepreneur, convinced thousands of innocent ‘followers’ of an event that simply didn’t exist. 


3. You: Netflix

It may have been a fictional series, but it sure as hell presented the dark reality of having a social media imprint. Because if you’re not careful about what you’re exposing on social media, it’s entirely too easy for a ‘stalker’ with technological skills to keep a track of your movements, every second of the day. 

TV Line

4. The Tinder Murder: YouTube

One presumes that online dating apps are opening you to the possibility of love. But, like this chilling short documentary by Deepika Bhardwaj exposed, it can also open you to a far more horrific reality. Accused Priya Seth lured a man, Dushyant Kumar, via the dating app Tinder, only to kidnap him for ransom, and later murder him. And he was not even her first victim. 

5. Terms and Conditions May Apply: YouTube

That little box of ‘Agree’ that we check off, without ever reading all the terms and conditions we’re saying yes to, is one of the main reasons why our ‘personal information’ is being mined for political or commercial gain. That’s exactly what this 2013 documentary exposes, specifically by focusing on tech giants like Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn, and their ‘misguiding terms of service’. 


6. Catfish

Yes, the internet brings people together. But a lack of governance also makes it a breeding ground for immoral people and their nefarious activities. Like Catfish exposed, it’s extremely easy for people to create a fake personality on social media and dupe other people. Though many people questioned the authenticity of the documentary, the message it sent across remains relevant even today. 


7. InRealLife

Our addiction to social media has created a world where young adults and teenagers live for the online community, often succumbing to a harrowing feeling of loneliness in real life. Social media’s excessive intrusion in our lives also increases cases of cyberbullying, and a thoughtless abandonment of privacy. The final result is a sad reality, that may have appeared far fetched when the documentary first released, but is all too real today. 

The Guardian

8. Black Mirror: Nosedive and Smithereens: Netflix

It may seem futuristic but various episodes of Black Mirror expose what would happen to a society completely dependent on social media. Like in Nosedive, where a person’s rating impacts their socioeconomic status, and the protagonist’s obsession with the same lands her in a fix. Smithereens, on the other hand, was a tad bit more realistic in exposing the ill-effects of excessive dependence on social media. 


The internet may have been created to bring people together, but today, it’s become a tool for far more sinister things. Till the time data law becomes human law – and maybe even after that – the onus lies on us to ensure what we’re putting out on social media, what we’re consuming, and what we’re believing in.