The Most Shocking Documentaries On Netflix And What We Can Learn From Them

The best life lessons come from real life, shocking things that actually happen (to other people!) are a great way to educate yourself on how to work smarter, be safer, and avoid catastrophes. The shock factor when it comes to Netflix documentaries at the moment comes from our inability to look away from something bad, it’s the reason people slow down to stare when there’s a crash – it’s partly stemming from that relief it didn’t happen to us.

If you’re looking for something to discuss with your co-workers, there are plenty of shocking Netflix documentaries that are trending right now, but these really take the cake. We thought it’d be a good opportunity to learn some much-needed life lessons from these documentaries, so take note.


FYRE Festival

Ok, you must remember the whole Fyre Festival drama on the news. Influencers featured in a video promoting this festival that was coming soon, they romped around on a beach making it look like the most over the top experience ever. A festival to rival Coachella. With beach villas, Blink 182 and Major Lazer headlining, each influencer (from Kendall Jenner to Bella Hadid) posted a simple orange photo to generate hype on the launch of Fyre festival. The tickets sold out fast.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes nothing was ready. The ‘festival’ was a shambles. Nobody knew what had happened. Co-creator Ja Rule came out to say that it hadn’t been his fault, he was just as much a victim as anyone else and he was sorry. The news painted a picture of modern-day hunger games, with people fighting for water, shelter, hoarding beds and supplies. And those of us who didn’t save up for tickers were wondering what the hell happened. 

What we can learn:

Besides how royal a f*ck up Fyre festival was, there are some lessons you can learn from this documentary. First, don’t blindly trust people who seem authoritative (like the founders of Fyre festival) because they might not know what they’re doing too. Along the same vein, don’t be afraid to call someone out if you think their behavior or what they’re doing is unacceptable. There were a lot of times that Fyre employees brought their concerns to deaf ears, one guy even lost his job for saying they were frauding people. It’s better to be let go from something like that then dragged down with it.

Also, and probably the most important lesson of all, do not trust what you see on the internet. Influencers now have strict regulations to post their adverts under, but it poses a question, do these people with huge influence actually try what they’re promoting? Do they actually know what they’re putting their name behind? Are their images true to life or are they edited and false? Sometimes it’s harmless, but in the case of ‘weight loss aids’ and things like Fyre festival, there are consequences.


The Bundy Tapes

Ted Bundy is coming back to popular culture with a vengeance. I’m sure he’d love to hear of his new found fame almost thirty years after his death. Ted Bundy wasn’t just a murderer, he was a violator. He violated women’s bodies long after they were dead. He collected sick trophies, he was just disgusting, and yet many women believed he was innocent for the same reasons that many of his victims got into a car with him. He was good looking. He looked trustworthy, clean cut, pleasant. He had the gift of gab. He didn’t fit their particular version of what a murderer actually was. Zac Efron is playing him in a new movie, and his particular brand of devastatingly good looking is bringing to life Bundy’s charm.

Netflix released the Bundy Tapes to an audience who spent most of the time remarking on how good looking Ted actually was, but the content of this documentary is shocking beyond belief. In fact, when he’s sentenced, the judge tells him: “Take care of yourself, young man. I say that to you sincerely. It’s a tragedy for this court to see such a total waste, I think, of humanity that I have experienced in this court. You’re a bright young man. You’d have made a good lawyer. I’d have loved to have you practice in front of me, but you went another way, partner.” 

What we can learn:

That you can’t judge a book by its cover. You can’t look at one person and immediately paint them to be a bad person and feel comfortable with another one because they fit your expectations. People like Ted Bundy prey on expectations, all of the women who got into his car trusted him not to be a creep. It’s an important lesson in personal safety. Keep your guard up, trust your gut, and watch for behaviors that make you feel uneasy.

The author of The Gift Of Fear, Gavin de Becker puts it like this, “violence is committed by people who look and act like people.” And it’s important not to worry about offending people to make yourself feel safe. You can step out of the lift if you want to. You can get into another train car. Do what you need to do to feel comfortable.

Planet Earth II

The wildly popular Planet Earth (narrated by national treasure David Attenborough) is back and now available on Netflix. Each episode is fascinating, with new camera equipment and filming techniques, you can get closer than ever before to the animals in the wild. There’s one particular scene with baby iguanas and snakes that was almost like watching some high-speed car chase.

Expect adrenaline, tears, and a very real depiction of the world we’re living in. It’s easy to get caught up in the 9-5 of life and forget that there’s a whole world out there, an ecosystem, and so many animals fighting for survival in the world just outside our door.

What we can learn:

As well as learning about animal behavior, this series had a very stark message for us all. We are changing the world for the nature around us. And not for the better. Habitats are being destroyed, city-building is destroying lives, the things we consume can have a direct impact on the world around us. Palm oil consumption destroys the habitats of thousands of animals. Environment changes affect wildlife profoundly.

As David Attenborough puts it, “The ingenuity with which we continue to reshape the surface of our planet is very striking. But it’s also sobering. It reminds me of just how easy it is for us to lose our connection with the natural world.” He poses a very sobering lesson: “It is, surely, our responsibility to do everything within our power to create a planet that provides a home not just for us, but for all life on Earth”.


Dirty Money

This is a really shocking documentary. Each episode tells a story about corporations abandoning morality in the pursuit of profits, with no repercussions for this behavior. They say the biggest criminals wear suits, and that definitely holds true for this documentary.

The most entertaining episode is probably “The Confidence Man” about Donald Trump. It goes into details about Trump’s history, with a few shocking things you might not know thrown in. There’s also an episode on Martin Shkreli, who you might remember as becoming hated on the internet for hiking up the price of vital life-saving medicines in order to increase the profit margins for his company. In one instance, a vital drug for people with a rare copper allergy went from $30 a month to $20,000 a month. As people handed over their life savings to stay alive, the company grew.

What can we learn:

A depressing lesson but one that’s worth learning, at the heads of many of these scandals there’s untouchable men (and women) pulling the strings. Lending money to cartels (HSBC), faking safe emissions (Volkswagen), many big companies make mistakes in order to profit, and there are rarely consequences. It’s always a good idea to school yourself on this kind of unethical behavior, in order to make better decisions when choosing companies to stand behind. And also, to be smarter with your money and know that not everyone has your best interest at heart.



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