The Mental Health Dilemma

Big Social is designed to reward distraction and keep us hooked on their platforms to fuel their business – at the great expense of our wellbeing. Join ‘The Social Dilemma’ for #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth to ignite awareness and action in your community. Discover resources, inspiration from changemakers, mobilization moments, and more to help you host a conversation about The Mental Health Dilemma.


False urgency & distraction

“It’s not enough that you use the product consciously, I wanna dig down deeper into the brain stem and implant, inside of you, an unconscious habit so that you are being programmed at a deeper level.”

Tristan Harris, Co-Founder, Center for Humane Technology

Digital notifications trigger the salience network of our brains, sending signals that something is urgent. This creates a series of false alarms, compromising our ability to discern what is urgent and encouraging multitasking that affects our brains.

Endless scroll, Endless searching

“You pull down and you refresh, it’s gonna be a new thing at the top. Pull down and refresh again, it’s new. Every single time. Which, in psychology, we call a positive intermittent reinforcement.”

Joe Toscano, Former Design Consultant at Google

Social media advertising gives anyone the opportunity to reach huge numbers of people with phenomenal ease, giving bad actors the tools to sow unrest and fuel political divisions.

Promoting Social Comparison

“…we have a basic biological imperative to connect with other people. That directly affects the release of dopamine in the reward pathway.”

Dr. Anna Lembke, Medical Director of Addiction Medicine at Stanford University

Likes can trigger powerful reward centers creating a lasting mark on our self-worth. This use of social validation combined with programming us to only share snippets of our lives that will elicit a response has normalized unhealthy social comparison.



Host a conversation using The Social Dilemma and our discussion guide with your friends and family about the harms of exploitative tech and its impact on our mental health.


These platforms may be designed to manipulate, but we have the power to take back control. Take our 1-week Social Media Reboot to begin realigning your relationship with technology.


Share your story with The Center for Humane Technology’s #MySocialTruth story bank. Together, these stories can build the public pressure needed to change the system.


From leveraging machine learning to amplify empathy to leading families towards digital balance, get to know some of the changemakers working to realign technology for the public good and eliminate its negative impact on our mental health.



Using AI as an empathetic agent for personal growth

Ivy is a seasoned digital product leader with a category-defining portfolio that focuses on beneficial and ethical designs. At evrmore, she is addressing the compound mental health issues we’re facing by leveraging machine learning to amplify empathy, so everyone can bypass the shadows that emerging tech casts in long-term life quality and betterment. The 2021 pilot program for higher ed and research is open now.



Erasing the stigma surrounding mental health

Unmasked is a supportive, anonymous community for students to share about how they’re really feeling, support other peers who are struggling and access free resources for emotional support. With a passion for mental health and innovation,10,000 users across 46 schools (and a team of 500 volunteer moderators including crisis counselors), Sanat and the UnMasked team are working hard to help all students feel less alone.



Guiding families to digital balance

For parents who want to understand their kids’ tech use and guide them to balance, check out Jack’s work as Founder of ScreenAllies, a team comprised of both youth and professionals dedicated to answering parents’ questions around kids’ tech use, and to give them concrete action steps on how to guide their kids to digital balance.


october 2020

The Social Dilemma Virtual Tour

november 2020

NYU School of Global Public Health

APRIL 2021

Center for Scholars & Storytellers

resources & Reading list

We’re always looking for more opportunities to learn and expand our understanding of the Mental Health Dilemma. If you have a suggestion or resource to share, contact us here.