Black Mirror: An Unsettling Reality

Violet Wright '20, Sports Editor

The British TV show Black Mirror first made its debut in 2011, in which each episode explored a new dark reality of advance technology. Each episode follows a different narrative or story that explore topics surrounding technology such as social media, hacking, and the government’s control though technology. Much like the concept of “Big Brother” in 1984, Black Mirror brings to light the idea that we are never truly alone, and that the presence of technology takes away our freedom. Creator of the show Charlie Brooker explains that the common theme in each episode is “a lack of perceived control.” We think we have control over our actions, but are we being influenced by the media around us? He has also described as the show being influenced by an old sci-fi show The Twilight Zone, a similar sci-fi TV show that first aired in 1959 which has been described as a psychological thriller often with twist endings.

Part of what makes the show so unsettling is the relevance of each plot. Many of these storylines take place in the not so distant future. In season three episode one entitled Nosedive, it follows a young office worker named Lacie in a world where social media has taken a huge, toxic step. She lives in a version of our world where every interaction is ranked by the people involved via an app. The higher your rank, the better your status. Those with a higher rank can receive privileges such as job promotions, discounted offers, and a larger social circle. The title of the episode foreshadows Lacie’s epic nosedive after she is poorly ranked by her brother, causing it to drop. The episode sheds light on very common feelings such as loneliness, exclusion, and feeling less than because of one’s status. It’s commentary about the increasing anxiety that comes with one’s status online is much like our media today. Perhaps soon we will all be rating each other via our iPhones.

But the show does more than blame technology for our anxieties. Black Mirror commentates on the reality that no matter what technology we possess, our problems will always remain human—like Lacie, whose real problem is her obsession with popularity. Although we can blame technology for our problems, the reality is that we are the only ones to blame for our faults, fears, and mistakes.