Spoiler Alert: Hello everybody, welcome to the Watch Club. This is your warning that the post ahead contains spoilers. Just like a book club, be sure to watch the material then come prepared to discuss what we’ve seen. We will be going into specific details to gain a further understanding of the message.
Also, we have chosen to watch Black Mirror because it is a show that can be watched out of order. Like Twilight Zone, each episode is a different standalone story. You do not need to watch the previous two seasons before joining in on this Watch Club.
Here’s an image to further ensure we haven’t spoiled your viewing:
Black Mirror Rates Social Media
Black Mirror reflects the darkest interpretations of our technology. Each story clearly takes technology to extreme levels and leads deeper and deeper into a black abyss. In short, it’s a dark interpretation of what technology is doing to us as people and as a society. The last two seasons focused on the hopeless and gave the protagonists nothing but torment with no glimmer of hope. The 1st episode in the 3rd season of Black Mirror introduced hope as the new element to its story telling style.
While earlier episodes of Black Mirror have ended in a state of despair, this first episode has changed the formula. While not an incredibly positive ending, the ending does reflect a glimmer of hope for our protagonist. The premise is a world where everybody has a social rating between 0 and 5. Lacie (Bryce Dallas Howard) is a 4.2 with a positive future ahead of her due to her growing popularity score. To afford a new apartment in a nice neighborhood, Lacie has to get her score up to a 4.5.
The basic function of technology hits really close to home with this idea. It’s not far off from our rating systems all over social media. Our online world is full of likes, shares, comments and interaction with a number of people at any given time. The comments section of the Internet can be an especially brutal place and there are a growing number of “Facebook reactions” people can have to quickly give you a piece of their mind. Nosedive takes this idea and applies it to people creating a clear discomfort and uncanny feeling watching people rate each other in the open.
The feeling is a combination of passive aggression and in person break-ups that make you squirm on the inside. Meanwhile, these real life interactions and impersonal rating standards determine how well you do in the world. Those with a high score have access to a better living both in work, school, and overall life. For those people with a low score, their class struggle is plagued with distrust and a system that assures people are where they are meant to be. For Lacie, her score is at the forefront of importance and a high score is everything she strives to achieve.
This is the outer layer of the horror that happens in “Nosedive.” This is the dark reflection of how our social media ratings often equate to our social status. People focus on painting a positive picture or a desirable lifestyle through social media. It hurts and ignores many of the challenges we face as a society. While this is a common critique of social media, the next layer focuses on systemic oppression or even systemic racism. The system, itself, is designed to give people the impression of logic and fairness. In turn, everybody feels they have the right to judge you immediately.
People are responsible for the ratings they give to others. Those with good ratings have earned them in some way just as those with bad ratings have earned their position. The people have spoken and there is no arguing with those results. Quickly, you create a world that sees these ratings and has reason to judge you based on the number. With a quick look, people are going to decide how to act around you and how they are going to treat you. It’s a problematic scenario with the promise of a difficult journey to improving your position. This isn’t the whole picture though, the next layer is global control over a population.
The woman driving the semi truck was only character in Nosedive who was aware of this. With people preoccupied in their ratings and acting accordingly it’s hard to be critical of the system in place. It’s a system that people attempt to manipulate to better themselves but that’s the trap. People believe they are using the rating system to their advantage by focusing their activities to showcase a smart, healthy and successful lifestyle. They shed their flaws and eradicate the freedoms of human flaws. The woman in the truck questions the ratings system by pointing out that it keeps people from truly expressing themselves.
While many may think they are being clever and using the rating system to their advantage, the system itself forces people to act in certain ways and become the perfect member of society. In turn, they are rewarded with lower rental costs, better seats at the airport, respect from everybody. It’s all at the expense of your freedom. As we see from Lacie, one step in the wrong direction can ruin your score and your life for good.
What are your thoughts on the different layers to the horror in Nosedive? How do you look at the critique of social media this show presents? Do you think it’s necessarily bad that people act in a positive way to improve their scores, or do you think it’s a good thing for society? Feel free to comment below and add any of your input to discuss the episode in any way!