I don’t know if you’ve been watching Black Mirror on Netflix lately, but this is one seriously twisted show. True mental scar tissue. Kind of like an homage to those old Twilight Zone, Tales From The Crypt and Alfred Hitchcock Presents series from the 60’s, but with a suitably modern twist.
More than anything, Black Mirror is a not so subtle critique of how modern technology and social media warp our lives in the worst of ways. The title itself, “Black Mirror”, describes the empty, nothingness of your computer or telephone screen when it’s powered down- only your darkened mirror face reflected back at you. A Doppelgänger from a cruel, alternate reality.
I think it’s a timely and prescient show, considering how pretty much nobody ever looks up from their smartphones anymore. Texting on your phone seems to be the new smoking, though certainly a lot less obnoxious health wise. It seems to have replaced the stinky, smoldering cigarette as the item of choice for fidgety fingers with too much time on their hands. People texting in movie theaters, on dates, eating with their friends, walking down stairs, crossing the street in traffic, bicycling at night, even fucking driving.
Is it that people actually subconsciously want to die? Or maybe they imagine that looking at a little plastic telephone provides them with some sort of a invisible, magic forcefield that protects them from that 5 ton Mack Truck bearing down on them in the crosswalk? Is the contents of a text your friend sent you worth your life?
More than anything, it seems people use their ever present telephone screen as a way to not have to be alone with the thoughts inside their heads. Heaven Forbid, we’d actually have to think or feel something throughout our day. What are we afraid of? Perhaps most people don’t like the thoughts inside their head anyway…
In any case, one of the best episodes of Black Mirror so far, “Nosedive“, takes an over the top, satirical look at social media, image and addiction. You always see people taking photos of their lunch, their coffee, posing for a selfie etc.
It’s somewhat disturbing to me how our own private lives start to become “doctored” in a way to present a false public facade in order gain points with people we don’t know. Everything starts to become a constructed facsimile life as filtered through our telephones.
Why in heck do we do this? Peer group approval probably. Does it really matter how many likes you have Instagram? Is “Unfollowing” someone the ultimate social bitchslap?
Nosedive depicts a world in which how many “likes” you have does actually determine your entire life. Everybody can rate each other like an Uber driver in every single social interaction they have (buying a coffee, bumping into someone on the street, friends you associate with etc).
Your entire access to things like jobs, apartments and dating website is exclusively dependent on your rating in social media. Therefore, the characters in this “Black Mirror” of our own reality are constantly scrutinizing every single interaction in order to improve their score from say, 4.2 Stars to 5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
People in “Nosedive” are only “polite” to each other because of what they can personally gain from it. Much like little Alex in A Clockwork Orange, he’s only kind to people at the end because he’s forced to be (via drugs and brainwashing) not because that’s how he really is inside. Though who he really is inside is a violent monster…
The main character is so desperately fake and addicted to her social media profile it’s almost agonizing to watch- though probably no different than how many people live their lives today. Her perspective on life only changes when she meets up with a whiskey swilling, tough-ass lady trucker, who tells her that she “stopped giving a shit what others thought a long time ago”.
Of course, the main character’s life only spirals downhill from here, but at least she finds the confidence to start telling people what she really thinks of them before completely imploding. Like many, she only finds personal freedom when she stops caring about what others think of her.
So what the heck did people do with their free moments before smartphones came along anyway? I keep asking myself that question as to what did I do with my time before the internet. I guess reading books, learning a musical instrument and making eye contact with your fellow human being proved too daunting a task for many.
Better to put some mini-headphones in your ears and just zone out. The clear blue sky above you wasn’t ever very inspirational anyway.
Though I’m not too familiar with Moby’s music, I think this animated video sums up a lot of feelings towards modern life, smartphones and social behavior nowadays. I love how it’s animated like an old 1920’s Felix The Cat style cartoon, freakin’ awesome: