Lesson AWF-4

Welcome! Please consider how your attitude affects your and other students' experiences of the lesson. 

Be respectful, come prepared, and show interest to have the best possible educational experience. 

Lesson goals

Read and discuss a text on social media, learn how to create participle clauses, how they can show cause and effect, reasons and event order

Lesson activities

Reading comprehension

Grammar lecture: participle clauses

Grammar exercises

Reading comprehension

Time for the activities: ~20-30 minutes

Before reading, complete the worksheet:

Once done with the vocabulary exercise:

We need to rethink social media before it's too late

We need to rethink social media before it's too late. We've accepted a Faustian bargain

A business model that alters the way we think, act, and live our lives has us heading toward dystopia

When people envision technology overtaking society, many think of The Terminator and bulletproof robots. Or Big Brother in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, a symbol of external, omnipotent oppression.

But in all likelihood, dystopian technology will not strong-arm us. Instead, we’ll unwittingly submit ourselves to a devil’s bargain: freely trade our subconscious preferences for memes, our social cohesion for instant connection, and the truth for what we want to hear.

Indeed, as former insiders at Google, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube attest in our new documentary, The Social Dilemma, this is already happening. We already live in a version of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. As Neil Postman puts it in his 1985 book Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business:

The technology that threatens our society, democracy, and mental health is lurking in our bedrooms, sometimes lying on our pillows, as we fall asleep. We awake to its call, bring its chiming notifications to dinner, and blindly trust where it guides us. We scroll insatiably, unsuspecting that the technology that connects us, especially now in a distanced world, is also controlling us.

A third of American adults, and nearly half of those aged 18-29, say they are online “almost constantly”. But, unlike the citizens of Brave New World, we’re miserable. As our time online has gone up, so have anxiety, depression and suicide rates, particularly among youth.

In The Social Dilemma, Tristan Harris, a former Google design ethicist and the co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology, points out that far before technology overpowers human strengths, it will overwhelm human weaknesses. Sophisticated algorithms learn our emotional vulnerabilities and exploit them for profit in insidious ways. 

After nearly three years of working on this film, I now see “the social dilemma” as a foundational problem of our time, underlying many of the other societal conflicts that require compromise and a shared understanding to fix. If two sides are constantly fed reflections of their pre-existing ideologies and outrageous straw men of opposing views, we will never be able to build bridges and heal the challenges that plague humanity.

But there is hope. In The Terminator sequels, Arnold Schwarzenegger comes back as a good guy. “Who sent you?” John Connor asks. The Terminator answers, “You did. Thirty-five years from now, you reprogrammed me to be your protector.”

In the absence of time travel, the solution needs to incorporate the work and voices of devoted activists, organizations, scholars, and those who have experienced the harms of exploitative technology, which amplifies systemic oppression and inequality. We can’t rely on the people who created the problem to be the ones to solve it. And I won’t trust these social media companies until they change their business model to serve us, the public. Humans created this technology, and we can – and have a responsibility to – change it.

Jeff Orlowski, The Guardian, Sun 27 Sep 2020

Used with permission. Abridged.


Grammar lecture: participle clauses

AWL-4 Participle clauses

Grammar exercises

Rewriting sentences into participle clauses

On your whiteboard, rewrite the sentences into participle clauses. Begin the sentences with:

Answer key


Study the Quizlet.

Exit ticket

My summary of the lecture ...