I had not heard of Black Mirrors until a few weeks ago. Now, I can see the importance of this series, and I will share what I think about Black Mirrors Episode 2 (BM 2) in this post.
I believe Black Mirrors addresses issues surrounding contemporary digital culture. Before I began watching Black Mirrors Episode 2 (hereafter BM 2), I had only read that this series was “ostensibly set in the not-too distant future” (Brown, 2017). The series was described with other comments; fetishes, dehumanisation and screen obsession(s). I had to watch this series as part of my study in a Masters Unit, ALC 708, but I must admit my interest was strong at this point.
This blog post shares my views on BM 2, and in no way, is this intended to be a spoiler, so feel free to read knowing that the opportunity to view BM 2, like I had, will still be there for you too.
I made almost two pages of notes during this episode. Here is a summary listing some key-words that I felt were encapsulated in the second episode.
- Humans in the virtual world were constantly presented with choices to Like or Dislike content.
- Humans each had a personalised experience via display screens.
- Users all appear similar, but have a unique experience.
- Humans were represented in digital form (avatars), but more than this, I felt they were targetted. Look out for the yellow outfits (hint, but no spoiler).
- Daily actions earned points – these points were redeemable for real-life experiences.
Day 2 of the episode made me realise that even though humans shared the same space, they were isolated and physical contact through speech was limited, and there was no touching that occured. Points were awarded for positive daily actions (such as washing hands). As I watched Episode 2, I was drawn into the prospects of this being a daily reality in the not-too-distant future. If I had to put a timeframe on it, I would say 10 years. I do believe (and I say this from my experience of business study, teaching business, and my experience running businesses) that the technology to make BM 2 a reality already exists. It is, somewhere in the world, being piloted, tested and refined. This episode is but one way to test the public’s reaction to the new future daily reality.
In this virtual yet real society – where the lines between both are clearly blurred, I would say that looks are valued more than intelligence. References to looks were plenty. The daily bike-riding makes me believe that everyone must be fit in this world. Choices of individuals were denied, with content being shown against people’s wishes, and products being consumed against people’s desires.
In the end, it all got very frustrating for one character, and his rage and frustration led to an opportunity for him. However, I think this episode shows that joining in with the masses has a damaging pscyhological effect, and I think that this episode of BM 2 highlights how screens and technology are making people unwell.
The suggestive nature of this episode included concepts such as “walking down the red carpet means you are successful”, “looks are more important than brains” and “unhealthy people are made fun of, especially for entertainment purposes”.
Another key point I took away from this episode is that content – what people see – is filtered. While there are opportunities to create content, and there are benefits of creating content (which the last scenes confirm), unless you are a content creator, you are consuming other people’s content. Content creation is a reward in BM 2.
No doubt, too, in life, I could say that content creation is valuable. I look forward to exploring content creation further in ALC 708. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post, and for those who have not yet watched the episode of BM2, I would be interested to hear your thoughts here as well.