How Netflix’s ‘Black Mirror’ Made Me Reevaluate My Social Media Life
I’ve gone on and on about my love for Netflix. From movies to Marvel series, Netflix is a screen watcher’s dream. But the most amazing thing about Netflix is that its library is so large that you’ll occasionally stumble upon something you should’ve been watching for years. My most recent find Black Mirror, part of the popular wave of anthology series where each episode is a story unto itself, uses a sci-fi tilt to hold up a mirror to society itself. The good, the bad, and (mostly) the ugly of social media addiction, human reliance on technology, and the increasing distance between people are revealed in this fearless series. But its true brilliance is in its ability to touch viewers on a personal level, inciting them to take stock of their own lives.
Black Mirror takes an especially incisive look at how media and technology infiltrate and monopolize our lives. Much like The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits, Black Mirror presents realities that are much like ours, only twisted in little ways to show the extremes of certain topics. For instance, “Fifteen Million Merits” shows a world where the adults live their lives in futuristic dormitory-style buildings, physically cycling on stationary bikes to provide power for the world. In return, they are given credits. And as the story plays out, the show skewers the role that popularity shows like American Idol or America’s Got Talent play in deciding for us what has worth and distancing us from things that are real.
Other storylines follow the same groundbreaking and enlightening path. “The Entire History of You” depicts people with computers implanted in their eyes that can record everything they experience and provide the ability to rewind, reexamine, and share their memories. This of course leads to rampant paranoia. “Be Right Back” explores how a woman copes with the loss of her husband by purchasing a synthetic version of him with his personality modeled after his social media presence. “Nosedive”, from the third season, crafts a world where people are rated by each other after every interaction, and your literal worth is decided by your average score.
But Black Mirror has much more to offer than sci-fi curiosities and plotlines that pull on your heartstrings. “White Bear” plays on our voyeur culture by waking a woman with no memories and having crowds of people watch and record her with their phones as she runs away from killers. And in “Playtest”, a traveling American takes part in a video game trial that immerses him in a virtual reality horror scenario that brings his greatest fears to life.
And while these seem to be completely disparate settings, there are little threads that lightly bind these stories together, from the frequent presence of a particular song to technology commonly being implanted in eyes.
In all of this, the one thing most impressive about Black Mirror is that you take messages from the episodes that apply directly to your life. Has social media capital become a priority in your life? What exactly qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment? How far would you go to keep your secrets from being exposed to the world? Black Mirror asks all of these questions and forces you to come up with answers for yourself. It’s a chilling, meta experience, and I became physically uncomfortable while watching a number of episodes, as if the show was holding up a mirror at my own life. It’s that discomfort and meaningful storytelling that both makes the show so enjoyable and will make you rethink the way you lead your own life.
The third season of Netflix’s Black Mirror was just made available on October 21, and a season 4 has already been given the green light. Binge-watch all three seasons on Netflix now and strap in for hours of mind-bending wonderment. The trailer for season 3 is below:
Photo credit: Netflix
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