By Jeff Todd

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (CBS4) – Inside a community room on the campus of Colorado Mesa University, a social experiment was taking place focused on the film “The Social Dilemma.” A group of people from all walks of life in Grand Junction have been meeting to talk about how differences and divides can become bridges to a prosperous community.

(credit: CBS)

“We kept coming back to social media, the fact that we don’t have a shared truth and why,” said Jay Seaton, the publisher of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel and a member of the community panel.

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Seaton has organized the most recent meeting for the group, or junta as he calls it. A collection of community members from all different occupations, political ideologies, and walks of life. Each member watched the documentary-drama “The Social Dilemma” and then held a panel discussion with the film’s creators.

“Starting in 2017, we were exploring consequences that social media is having on society. We really wanted to go to the people that were working inside the companies, the experts, the engineers, the designers the executives who worked within Facebook and Twitter and Google,” said Jeff Orlowski, the director of the film. “We were so, so thrilled to take part in this conversation because we know and we have seen how these technology platforms can exacerbate divisions, can cause polarization. Hopefully, let this be a tool and an opportunity for bridge-building in the process.”

(credit: Netflix)

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“The Social Dilemma” has become the second most-watched documentary in Netflix history. It’s receiving buzz as award season approaches. Orlowski says in the first month it was released, last September, 38 million households streamed the movie.

“How do we break away from those customized feeds and come back toward shared conversation? A community group and bringing people together in a room to have those conversations is so powerful. So, I just love these groups are coming together to have tough conversations,” Orlowski said.

(credit: CBS)

Seaton hopes events like this can be a stepping stone to expand the conversation in the community around Grand Junction. He knows change will take time but he’s hopeful it can begin soon.

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“I feel like we have a foothold like we might actually make a difference. Who knows,” he said. “We want to stir a discussion around it as a community. How do we instigate this conversation and how do we get there? How do we get people to think twice about what they do on social media?”

Jeff Todd