Black Mirror: Nosedive

Blog prompt: How likely are we to experience the dystopian reality portrayed in this episode or is it already happening? If not, what is an action we can take in our present day to prevent it from coming true?

The Black Mirror episode titled “Nosedive” follows a young woman named Lacie. Set in an alternative reality, people ‘rate’ one another after every single encounter using their mobile devices, and one’s ratings can impact their entire life. At the beginning of the episode, Lacie has a rating of 4.2 out of 5 and becomes obsessed with improving her rating and being well-liked by others around her. She spends almost all of her time practicing happy and likeable faces in the mirror and perfecting the images she posts. Because of her lower ranking, Lacie has to pay a higher rent amount for an apartment, is unable to get a seat on a flight, and has to rent an old model car.

Lacie’s childhood friend, Naomi, who has a rating of 4.8, asks Lacie to be maid of honor at her wedding. After many unfortunate encounters on her way to the wedding, Lacie’s rating drops to a 2.6 and Naomi tells Lacie she is no longer welcome. Lacie attends anyways, and after the other guests rank her down to a zero, she loses it. She threatens Naomi’s new husband with a knife and is arrested. At the end of the episode, Lacie is in a cell with another inmate. She comes to be quite satisfied as she realizes the two of them can speak to each other without the fear of being ranked poorly.

“Nosedive” portrays a powerful theme around social media obsession and online value or acceptance. It really made me stop and think about the use of social media in our lives today and the so-called reward of high numbers. Strictly thinking about this episode in that sense, that reality is happening today. People are becoming more and more concerned with their status on social media — how many followers they have, and how many likes and comments they get from others. Given how often the internet is used today, social media and the online world will definitely grow to have an even bigger impact on our day to day lives. Our children and our children’s children will grow up with it and become extremely dependent on it. However, I don’t see the idea of rating others based on every day interactions becoming the norm, or that everything around us will depend on boosting our ‘rating’ or our value or worth to others.

An action we can take in the present day to prevent something like this from becoming true in the future is to keep some key things in mind when it comes to the internet. Relating to my post from last week, I believe that practicing online self-care can absolutely prevent us from becoming social media-obsessed. We need to remember that our presence on social media and the way that others view us through it isn’t as important as we sometimes believe it to be. At the end of the day, you are probably the only one who really cares if your Instagram post hits x amount of likes or you get x amount of comments.

At the end of the episode, where Lacie realizes that she doesn’t need to worry so much about her rating and overall status, relates to that ‘reality check’ moment that I’m sure many of us have from time to time, when we really think about how much of our time social media takes up and the strain it can put on our personal lives. To fight this, it is important for us to limit our online use, remembering to take a step back from social media and other platforms every once in a while and to spend our time really interacting with our friends and family or doing other things that we enjoy.

“Nosedive” paints a picture of just how far society may go in terms of the online likability we think we need, rather than the approval through face-to-face interactions. But we need to remember that the online world isn’t everything.