A broken mirror is believed to bring 7 years of bad luck. What about a broken phone? The opening title of every Black Mirror episode starts with a cracked screen, suggesting the ominous undertone attached to each episode.
Our phones, computers and televisions can be likened to black mirrors that have taken over our lives. Technology envelopes our every action, interaction and reaction that occurs, as social media continues to claw its way into our devices and lives. Should these advances make your skin crawl? If it doesn’t, watching Black Mirror certainly will effect such a change.
This thought-provoking, fear-inducing British show called Black Mirror is now available on Netflix. Every episode has an independent storyline, and each storyline exists in the present or near future. Episodes delve into existing or futuristic technology and as the tale unfolds, one starts to realise how such a technology could break down the fundamental tenets of our society. You think being able to record all your experiences with your eyes is great? I would think again. The episode “Entire History of You” showcases a gripping story of how this exact technology could ruin your life.
What is scary about Black Mirror is how similar these technologies are to the devices that already surround us. The episode “Nosedive” features a social media rating system for individuals that dictates what strata of society one belongs to. If you get a high rating from others, you are considered an elite citizen. Low ratings mean you are an outcast. Sounds farfetched? In fact, you would be surprised to know that these rating systems already exist on apps such as Uber. Could this be a probable future for us? It is likely, in light of Charlie Brooker, the show’s creator’s comments: "Each episode has a different cast, a different setting, even a different reality. But they're all about the way we live now – and the way we might be living in 10 minutes' time if we're clumsy."
In “Nosedive”, the main protagonist is obsessed with getting a high rating on the social media rating system. Parallels between the situation shown on screen and the current reality could be drawn, when we realise that our real-life relationships have become superficial as people care more about getting high ratings from each other, rather than having real interactions. This bleak and grim reality is presented to us via the show’s clever use of colours in setting the scene. At the start, the episode uses beautiful light and pale pink colours for the characters’ clothes and backgrounds, depicting the seemingly innocent and happy way things are, on the surface. By the end of the episode, the light and pale colours turn grey, as the realisation that no one is truly happy dawns upon us. The episode makes us ponder over how our current social media only showcases our happy moments and hides the darker aspects of our lives. It makes us question what it truly means to be happy.
So why should you take the time to watch this ground-breaking show? Watching the dark realities that exists on the fringe of society may not seem like the most relaxing way to spend your evenings. Yet the brilliant plot, fabulous acting and the careful and intricate details that have gone into creating each dystopic world is certainly not to be missed. Unlike other dystopic worlds that have been created, such as those in Hunger Gamesor The Maze Runner, what really sets Black Mirror apart are the clear connections that every episode creates with current society and the chills it sends down your spine as you realise that the situations presented on TV could very well happen to you in the near future.
Each episode questions us on important issues such as ethics, philosophy, race and culture. My advice? After watching an episode, read and watch reviews of the episode on Reddit and on YouTube, to really understand the implications of what the episode showcased. In fact, create a group of friends to discuss the show with. It is a wonderful way to engage in a meaningful discussion about things that you may have never thought about before.
So, look at the reflection on the black screen of your phone. Are you ready to find out what the future could hold?