The controversial show conveys hidden messages to a digital native society.
Today’s world is full of the ‘digital native’ generation who have all grown up with a good understanding of everything tech related. We use devices to stay close to one another and to find out what’s going on in different countries, from celebrities to politics, digital has given us the ability to find the answer to any question with the click of a button. But how do we stop tech from overtaking every element of life?
Controversial TV programme, Black Mirror, has opened up our eyes to how tech ‘can go wrong’ when taken advantage of. It informs the audience about what could be on the horizon for our ‘tech-fuelled world’ – and it’s not as exciting as you may think.
The technology forecasts within the Black Mirror storyline may seem unrealistic at first, but the creator’s fantastic attention to detail and plot twists that end every episode, show a new creation that conveys a hard-hitting message: ‘How this could affect us all in the not too distant future?’
Below are some examples of how the hit-show has shown predictions of different innovations that are constantly developing around us as we speak:
Using online presence to measure social status
One of the most relatable Black Mirror episodes is ‘Nosedive,’ involving an insecure woman who desperately wants to impress at an upcoming wedding she is attending. Strongly referencing Instagram, the episode is set in a world where individuals are given scores based on their social media presence and the perception others have of you through this platform. Wear the wrong outfit or order the wrong dinner and you may be docked a few points, if your ‘score’ becomes too low then you are confined until you build up your ‘social points’ again, referencing the ‘likes’ that people today strive for from their social media. This episode is a true insight of how social media has impacted our lives and how it might continue to overtake to an extreme point.
This concept of gaining ‘social points’ to determine a person’s worth is slowly catching on, particularly in developing countries where people are constantly looking to enhance technology to impact our lives. In China, it is possible to have social credit scores in some aspects of your life, such as political and social. This can affect someone’s chances of getting a job as the employer can check out anything they have posted online from the different categories.
Social points are brought to light again in episode ‘Hang the DJ,’ a very-near future spin on how Tinder could develop. It focuses on two characters who are in a controlling world where their love-life is based on the person they are matched with, but they don’t have an option and must stay with the person for as long as the app tells them. Unlike most others, this episode has a positive ending with the two characters breaking free from the confines of the app and escape together proving they are a match. Its message is by all means to still use Tinder, but to not forget that it’s possible to meet a love match in other ways and to not be solely reliant on technology to help you find love.
Artificially bringing back the dead
The episode entitled ‘Be Right Back’, shows a widow mourning the death of her beloved husband. When finding out about the option to bring him back in a technological form, she jumps at the chance. She is able to listen to him through a chatbot speaking from saved messages and social media posts he wrote when alive. After trying this out, she opts for a high-end tech alternative to the chatbot, a robot created by the same company and the robot is a clone of her dead husband.
The eerie option of bringing a person back through a chatbot has already been done and there are currently startups in developing countries working on chatbots for people in mourning. This option may seem like a way to help ease the pain of the loss of a loved one, but as shown in the Black Mirror episode, it can make it harder to move on. The character from the show is left pining for her real husband even more. This shows how technology can intervene in real-life situations and stop us from moving on, by giving us a false sense of reality.
The dangers of reality gaming
Society is a big fan of externally created visual games, a step up from video games that give you the 3-D effect to make you feel as though you are in another dimension. This is what Black Mirror episode ‘Playtest’ is focused on. It shows a young American guy who is travelling around Europe and finds himself in a bit of money trouble. Turning to game testing for some cash, he finds himself becoming a human guinea pig for a new virtual reality game. Once using a brain implant, he is able to experience the false reality of the game so intensely that it becomes indistinguishable from reality, however the force is too strong and results on his body giving up.
It has been predicted that in 40 years or so people will browse online only through microchips, making the world of online gaming more forceful. This episode has a clear message, the more time you spend in the gaming world, the harder it will be to distinguish between reality and fiction.
It’s safe to say this show has people buzzing in a big way, using the concept of new technological creations to show how new developments can make a serious impact on our lives. The hidden messages behind the Black Mirror episodes are as important as the episodes themselves. It’s important to adhere to and interpret these hidden messages as life lessons – after all, the storylines depicted in each episode may not be as far from reality as we might think.