“Stop, looking so shocked. It’s already happening.”
I sat there staring at the cold 13", black, shiny screen after the credits had stopped rolling completely stunned. I picked up my smaller 4.4" black, shiny screen, turned it on, and let it consume me. I scrolled through Facebook rolling my eyes at fake news about the election plastered everywhere by silly conservatives. I tweeted “Yoooo “Nosedive” fucked me up” and not so patiently waited for the retweets and likes to roll in. I flicked through Instagram liking and commenting on my friends’ pictures boosting their self-esteem no doubt and at times, silently judging some of the pictures other friends decided to post. I did this, all the while, making sure that the people who I was following were following me as well. If not, buh-bye.
This is what I did directly after finishing Season 3, Episode 1 of Black Mirror titled “Nosedive”.
Black Mirror, a British, sci-fi, anthology series created in 2011 by Charlie Brooker, hones in on the odd and obsessive relationship humans have with their technology. As stated in an interview with the creator, the title of the show refers to, “the cold, shiny screens” of the many technological devices that we just cannot seem to break away from. Some have also taken the title further in suggesting that within the framework of the television show, technology reflects the darkest and blackest elements of humanity. What I find so intriguing and truly terrifying about this show is that a lot of the plot in episodes from Season 1 & 2 have already come to pass e.g. a ridiculous, television persona running for office or a bot that mimics the dead. This show is speculative in the way that it looks at what could happen between humans and technology if we were ever to lose sight of who we are.
Season 3, Episode 1 of Black Mirror, titled “Nosedive”, is not like some of the other episodes where they are set in futuristic worlds, where most of what the audience sees can be described as outlandish, to say the least. This episode is different. I would say on the technology front, we are a couple decades off from this becoming a reality. However, when it concerns the social landscape that is showcased in this episode, we’ve been living it for quite awhile already.
Directed by Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride & Prejudice), Lacie (Bryce Dallas Howard) lives in an America that is extremely pastel heavy where both men and women are constantly trying to one up each other in overall happiness and perfection. Basically, the world Lacie lives in is always “insta worthy.” Here’s the creepy part: every interaction you have with another person is ranked on a scale from 1–5. Though it is hard to tell, it seems as if every individual has implants or contact lenses set into their eyes where they are synced with this app. Every single time you see someone, you can see their rating. Their rating is comprised of if people like what they see when these people post on social media, if they have a good or bad face to face interaction with you, and also who that person is associated with.
I love and hate social media. I think social media is the best and also the worst thing that could’ve happened to the world, besides Donald Trump. He’s just the worst. I’ve made wonderful friends through Twitter and Instagram, however, you start to realize how it’s all so fake. Everything is smoke and mirrors. Everyone has a different persona on each platform. On Twitter, you have to be cynical, sarcastic, and joke about death a lot. On Instagram, you have to a clever caption for even the most boring photo. Oh, it also helps if you’e gorgeous. I’m pretty sure Tumblr is simply just for porn now. There’s enough of it on my dashboard, which I don’t even know how it comes up. Lastly, Facebook has become a place where 40 and 50 year olds connect with old college and high school classmates where they sit back and think “I always hated her. I’m glad she’s now fat and divorced.”
What i’m trying to get at here is that this episode will surely make chills go up your spine if you ever have posted something and said to your friend “If this doesn’t get at least 75 likes, I’m taking it down.” Guilty.
Lacie’s average rating is nothing to scoff at. It’s a very respectable 4.2–4.3. She should be happy with that, but of course, humanity has an incessant need to be liked, to be wanted, to be loved. 4.2–4.3 isn’t going to cut it. Lacie is looking for a new home. When the realtor tells her that they will take 20% off of rent if she can get her rating up to a 4.5, we have the major conflict of the episode. Now, a rating of this sort having any impact on someone’s monthly rent is a bit far fetched but this is a social commentary, after all.
It’s the same as if you can just hit 600 followers on Instagram, everything will be fine. If i can get 10 retweets, I’ll feel better about myself in the morning. You won’t. Sorry, bud.
Everything seemingly starts to turn around for Lacie when an old friend (Lacie Eve) from middle school wants her to be her maid of honor at her wedding. She tells Lacie there’ll be “prime influencers” at the ceremony. You can guess from the title of the episode that all does not go as planned. When Lacie’s rating drops below a 4.2 after her flight to the wedding gets canceled, things really start to take a “nosedive.” The episode ends with Lacie being arrested and her phone confiscated after she drops below the legal rating.
The most horrifying elements of this episode is that we’ve all been there before. We have all been felt dejected, disliked, that we aren’t good enough.
Honestly, there are times that you can feel like a second class citizen when you feel excluded. I’ve been there. I think it’s safe to say that we all have. This episode, yes, is kooky and far fetched and over the top, but the true essence of what this episode is about should not be taken at face value. The true horror of this episode and with most Black Mirror episodes is not believing that this is our future, what are we gonna do? The true horror is that elements of this episode have already come to pass and we have only normalized and emboldened this kind of behavior.
I remember watching this episode with my friend and I kept reading review after review of this episode and the series itself. Every blogger had their own opinion on it and I said to my friend, “I can’t believe what we just watched, that was literally horrifying..like wow,” and she whipped her head around and stared at me like I had seven eyes or something and said,
“Stop, looking so shocked. It’s already happening.”