This Black Mirror Episode May Represent our Society More Than We Think

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“Nosedive

This episode of Black Mirror centers around a society where people can rate their interactions with others on a scale of one to five. An individual’s rating can be seen by everyone else and affects not only their social, but their economic status. The main character, Lacie Pound, has a 4.2 rating and needs a 4.5 to get a new apartment. She meets with a consultant who tells her she needs to be rated highly by elites in order to boost her score.  When Lacie posts a picture of her teddy bear from her childhood, her childhood friend Naomi (an elite) ranks it highly (Lacie’s hoped for result) and calls Lacie to announce her engagement (to another elite, obviously). Naomi asks Lacie to be her maid of honor and deliver a speech. Lacie agrees and plans to take a flight out; however, a disagreement with her brother results in a missed her ride to the airport which starts a rather unfortunate series of events.

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Lacie then runs into someone and spills their coffee, which causes her score to drop below a 4.2. Her flight is then cancelled and she is unable to buy another ticket because of how low her score is. Lacie then gets upset and security subtracts a point from her rating for 24 hours. As a result, Lacie misses Naomi’s dress rehearsal and is forced to hitchhike with a truck driver named Susan, who is ranked below a 2.0. Susan tells Lacie she used to be ranked a 4.6 but stopped caring about her rating once her husband died because he was denied care in a hospital due to his rating. As Lacie is on her way to the wedding, Naomi tells her not to come because of how low her rating is. Instead, Lacie crashes the wedding and delivers her speech. As she gives her speech, Lacie is visibly upset which leads the guests to rank her negatively, thereby causing her rating to drop below one star. Security comes to arrest Lacie and take her to prison where the rating hardware is removed from her eyes. While in prison, Lacie starts arguing with one of the men there and they both realize how liberating it is being able to talk to each other without rating one another. ​

What it says about our society

This Black Mirror episode is especially shocking because of how important people’s ratings are. In the episode, a person’s rating can significantly impact their socioeconomic status. To Lacie, her rating is the most important thing in her life and everything she does revolves around other people and what they think of her. Everything she says, does, and posts is calculated because of her need to raise her rating.

Does this sound familiar? Although many people may not want to accept it, social media has consumed the lives of many and grown into an obsession. Social media is now a platform to put your best self forward and only show the (intentionally curated) good parts of your life. This obsession with Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter encourages the need to look perfect in pictures and get a certain number of likes or risk being seen as unpopular or as less than someone else. People in our society seek validation from strangers through “followers” and “likes.” People obtain this validation by changing their opinions or not giving their opinions at all.

In the episode, Lacie keeps herself from getting angry several times so that people will not rate her badly. Is this any different than lying on social media to be validated? Sounds like a warped definition of selfless.

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Originally published 12/3/2018 on TV Topics.

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