The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization.
I started watching Black Mirror while I was in Brazil. After dinner one night, we decided it was time for some Netflix-ing. I can’t remember if one of us had had already watched an episode, or we picked it randomly. I still miss some things in Portuguese, but I’m working on it, okay?
Black Mirror is a British TV show that explores the dark side of the technology-focused culture that we live in. Each episode features a different set of characters and there’s no defined story arc. The season is filled with a few individual stories that take you from “This is interesting” to “WTF” in about an hour.
First things first: the first episode freaked me out, and definitely needed a trigger warning. It was a little too dark, a little too on the nose with sexual assault and what that means in a technological age. In fact, it’s not a bad idea to skip over that one.
The rest of the series focuses more on virtual reality and the ways in which technology could very easily be incorporated into our daily lives in the future. Wearable tech that’s implanted behind the ear or in the eye, game show contestants who live entirely in a virtual world, artificial intelligence, and making virtual clones are all covered.
My favorite episode, “Nosedive,” explores what it means when likes, ratings, and social media overtake human interactions. What if you rated every single interaction with another person? What if those ratings affected your cultural capital? The things you had access to in society?
To me, good art — be it TV shows, movies, photography — inspires a strong emotional response. With shows like Black Mirror or, one of my favorite movies/plays, Streetcar Named Desire, I’m left with this undefined sensation of discomfort that sits with me for days and I love to dig into it.
With Black Mirror, there’s is a clear understanding that all of this could easily happen within the next few years. As we adapt to and adopt technology more and more quickly, it’s hard to say what the long-term consequences will be from an emotional, psychological, and social perspective.
It’s freaky, in a good way. Bonus points: it now makes me question myself every time I respond immediately to any notification, buzz, or ping on my phone.