The “Black Mirror” in our Pockets

: Sammy Croteau, Arts & Culture Editor

The Netflix Original Series “Black Mirror” showcases the eerie takeover of our society by technology. The setting occurs in the near future with bizarre situations that seem out of this world, yet just out reach in our current high-tech society. The British television drama features standalone episodes, each having its own distinct plot and cast. The episodes share common underlying themes relating to the dangers of technology’s power in the modern world. Although the show includes several sci-fi characteristics, each episode is relatable for viewers considering the technological situations the characters find themselves in.

The 17th episode in the series, “Hang the DJ,” presents a new dating app where couples are told how long their relationship will last. The characters in this episode must obey the app and break up with their significant other when told to do so, or else they face alarming consequences. The app is comparable to real social media dating tools such as Tinder or Bumble, but has an uneasy twist where the technology in the show has dooming power over its user and significant other. Like in “Hang the DJ,” the technological situations presented in each episode are so drastic that they cause unease in the audience, considering how our current technological advances seem to be limitless. The strange happenings in the show are so intriguing because they are not far off from what our society is like today, or where it is headed.

“Nosedive” from Season 3 stands as one of the most realistic episodes because it demonstrates the mask social media provides us with in order to make our lives look perfect on the surface. In the episode, a young woman becomes obsessed with documenting her life on social media in order to receive approval and acceptance from the world around her, which is also filled with shallow social media addicts. Not much different from our world today, right? Unlike our social media, the character’s rate one another out of 5 stars when they see someone they know in public, based on the quality of their pictures and profile. Similarly, in our world, social media sites like Instagram and Facebook provide an outlet for people to post the most luxurious parts of their life, filtering out any imperfections that may occur in their everyday routine. This filtration leads people to believe that some of their online friends or followers live “picture perfect” lives when their problems are really being purposefully hidden from the public world. Although we don’t physically rate people on their social media platforms, many social media users subconsciously rate the person’s life in their minds based on what they present to the internet.

“Black Mirror” challenges its viewers to question technological advances and forces us to evaluate the ways we use modern technology so that our minds do not become corrupt like the naïve characters in the show. It is important for the members of our society to take a step away from the sometimes overwhelming world of technology in order to remind ourselves that there is still a world where we can exist without any of these gadgets.

 Yes, technology does make day to day life easier, but for thousands of years, humans existed and thrived without the internet and other 21st century advancements. By detaching ourselves from the television, cell phone, or computer, we are reminded to appreciate the simple elements that complete our lives, such as personal relationships and nature. Unplugging from technology may be more difficult for others because of the strong reliance they have formed with their device. Break that reliability by leaving your phone in another room while completing a task such as cooking or cleaning. Then, once you have completed your task, you can reward yourself by going back to check on your device. Another way to decrease your screen time is to turn off your social media notifications and only check each app when you are not busy. With social media sending us constant alerts about new followers or incoming messages, we are forced to look down at our phones, temporarily removing our attention from the current real-life situation.

Social media and continuous developing technologies have a tremendous impact on our lives, both positive and negative. It’s central that as daily users we study both types of effects in order to understand the best ways to apply technology to our lives. We must continue exposing our minds to shows or literature like “Black Mirror,” which open our eyes to current issues in our world that are being presented in an exaggerated or twisted way.