Life Lessons We Learned From Watching The New “Black Mirror”
Are you as creeped out as we are? Maybe just a little bit?| October 24, 2016
So, I may or may not have spent a good bulk of my weekend watching the latest season of Black Mirror. Okay fine, I did. But just so you know, I did go out of the house to get food, managed to squeeze in a 30-minute run in-between episodes and even met a friend for dinner and tea (though much of our tea-talk did involve Black Mirror). See, all is not lost in our tech-obsessed world.
I’m a hardcore Game of Thrones fan – I’m drinking from my House Lannister glass as I type this – but I have to say that Black Mirror is one of the finest things we have on television. Every episode of this science-fiction-technological-satire-dystopia blob is so cleverly written that even the suckier bits – looking at you, “The Waldo Moment” – are still kind of good. There aren’t many shows at there that can make you feel guilty yet relieved, creeped-out yet intrigued, all at the same time.
Listen, I’ve seen almost every episode of American Horror Story and none of them sent chills down my spine the same way Black Mirror did. What makes Black Mirror so disturbing is that all that goes on in there could happen one day, in some variation or another. It is all so hauntingly…close. Sure, computer screens in the form of contact lenses seem like a bit of a stretch, but the whole spacing out thing as the characters scroll through their social media feed? Familiar. Doing a quick Instagram search on an acquaintance in an effort to make small talk? Familiar.
Ten minutes into “Nosedive” – the opening episode of Season 3 starring a very pretty Bryce Dallas Howard and James Norton i.e. that hot guy from BBC’s War & Peace – and I was already unsettled. Guilty. Intrigued. Needless to say, more feels were felt throughout the rest of the season. Without further ado, here are just some of the mental memos – this is your spoiler warning! – that sprung up during the six-hour Black Mirror marathon:
Stop laughing at your freaking phone for once. That one scene in “Nosedive” with Howard laughing at herself was just weird. She was probably watching something on her eye-screen, but from afar, it just looks like she was laughing maniacally at nothing.
Chill it on the carefully orchestrated food pictures and just eat the food. Howard orders a cookie and a coffee for breakfast, which she documents for social media, as one does, and gets plenty of likes. What her followers don’t know is that she spat out the cookie after taking that perfectly-shaped bite. The coffee wasn’t that great either.
Judging someone based on social media. Howard meets a woman with a very low social media rating of 1.4 who turns out to be more genuine and just generally nicer than all her 4.5 and up compadres.
When they ask you to turn off your phone, JUST TURN IT OFF. In “Playtest”, the lead’s need to document everything on his phone – even though he was specifically instructed to turn it off – indirectly causes his untimely demise.
Immortality by uploading your consciousness into a utopian cloud of your choosing. Would you? Should we? In “San Junipero”, characters are given the chance to live out their existence in a virtual reality where they can stay young forever. Even if they’re old and bedridden in real life. Even if they’re actually dead.
Camera holes on phones and laptops are officially freaky now. Could someone be Big Brother-ing you, the same way the characters were being watched by invisible hackers in “Shut Up and Dance”? Never looking at my phone camera the same way again.
Be careful what you say online, it may come back to bite you in the rear. It won’t be malicious mechanical bees like in “Hated In The Nation”, but a future employee? A future friend? A family member? Stuff you put online could come back to haunt you at the most inconvenient of times.
Photo: Bryce Dallas Howard in “Nosedive” from Black Mirror/Netflix