The third series of Black Mirror came out on Netflix on the 21st October, and is already causing waves with it’s now nightmarish depiction of technology in the near future.
If you’ve not seen Black Mirror before, many people have described it as a ‘21st Century Twilight Zone’, an anthology series where the main characters usually suffer the effects of a world obsessed with the furtherment of technology. It’s not surprising, given that the series creator is Charlie Brooker. Brooker is well known for being an early adopter of technology, while at the same time being highly sceptical of it.
Even though he didn’t write the first episode of series 3, ‘Nosedive’, you can see his fingerprints all over it. It features Bryce Dallas Howard as Lacie, a woman in a near future world where everyone has a rating. After every interaction, people rate each other out of five stars, and the higher your rating, the better you do in life. You get preferential hospital treatment, better jobs, and better living spaces.
Lacie, a 4.2, is desperate to clamber her way up the social ladder. She needs somewhere new to live as her lease has ran out, and to get into Pelican Cove she needs a 4.5 score or higher. The episode follows her chasing that score by accepting the role of maid of honour at a former enemy’s wedding, and as the title suggests, things do not go to plan.
Anyone watching will have seen the comparison with apps such as Uber straight away. As with ‘Nosedive’, users of the service rate their drivers out of five stars, and the drivers can rate the passengers too. With the driver’s livelihood dependent on their score, many have been found using creative ways to up it. Some have been found to offer sweets, water and other amenities in their cab, to make sure they secure that five star rating.
‘Nosedive’ takes this idea to it’s logical extreme, but there are shades of everyday life in there too. People in its world can also be rated on their posts on social media. Looking to up their scores, people become more and more fake and saccharin in what they post. Watching Lacie scroll through her feed, it’s hard not to be reminded of some of the most carefully created snapshots on Instagram.
Is this what we can look forward to in the future? Probably not. Most reviewers have pointed out that there’s no way only one company would have such control over our lives (although looking at Facebook and Google, who knows?). What it does do, though, is show us just how easy it is to become obsessed with how you come across online.
We can all admit to spending more time than is really necessary curating our social media feeds. After all, no one wants to show off the worst parts of their personality online. However, as in the episode, we all should step back from time to time and appreciate the world for what it is.
Saying that though, there’s no way you’re taking Instagram from me. There’s too many cute dogs on it.