About three months ago, I was talking to a coworker about an episode of Black Mirror (the one with Jon Hamm, I know you know the episode). I had only ever seen the show once, but Jon Hamm truly turned me into a Black Mirror fan, and I desperately needed to know which episodes to follow up with. My coworker replied, “Whatever you do, skip the next one, Season 3, Episode 1. I had to turn it off mid way because it frightened me too much.” As someone with zero tolerance for jump-scares and gore, I asked her what the episode was about so I could avoid it. To my surprise, she responded, “Social media.”
As recommended, I held off on watching “Nosedive.” But after learning the episode was required for class, I became re-interested, figuring it would seem more captivating after a semester submerged in social media. I was not disappointed. “Nosedive” was simultaneously unbelievable and relatable. It was fascinating, but unnerving. It hit on anxieties most millennials face every day when engaging in the social media realm – and cranked them up 10 notches.
That feeling of awkwardness when you post an Instagram photo, and it takes 3 whole minutes for anyone to like it. That judgment you make when someone follows you on Twitter, and you quickly stalk your own timeline to ensure your past posts were funny enough. That envy you feel when someone posts the most aesthetically pleasing candid ever, and you realize your own “selfie” game is weak. That pressure to take interesting pictures in any situation, because otherwise, how would anyone know you left your bed?
Black Mirror addressed all of this uneasiness surrounding social media that no one seems to talk about. Why the taboo? Because Twitter is hilarious, we insist. Instagram is so pretty. Facebook keeps us connected. We don’t want to admit that a platform built around sociability can makes us feel supremely miserable and self conscious. Especially when your timeline is filled with 5 photos of Victoria’s Secret models, 7 photos of beautiful foods you can’t recreate, and 19 photos of acquaintances living their “best life” while you sit in class. But, as “Nosedive” pointed out, none of this is real.
Take the coffee shop scene for example. Ordering a latte she didn’t like and a cookie she didn’t want, our 4.2 friend Lacie snapped a pic to boost her rating, then discarded the breakfast. She proceeded to lie to her loyal feed followers by captioning the combination “Heaven.” I took this personally, because there’s nothing worse than a bad breakfast recommendation. Besides, between a $6.00 specialty coffee and a $4.00 pastry, Lacie spent approximately $10.00 to lose her freakin’ mind.
Black Mirror has always prided itself on being able to effectively straddle the line between fiction and a realistic future. I personally feel as though our society should heed these story lines as warnings, as opposed to simply entertainment. This social media obsessed world that “Nosedive” presents does not seem too far off from our current daily interactions. Toning back on the favorites, likes, and ratings could benefit human cultural overall, creating more authentic face-to-face interactions. I, for one, could not survive in a world that required rating every single interaction – my thumbs (not to mention my brain) would simply become too tired.