So, the new season of UK’s cult hit Black Mirror is finally here and just like the others, it’s terrifyingly real. Almost a little too real for my liking.
‘Nosedive’ was the first of the six unsettling stories about our increasingly digital lives, which drew on societies obsession with social media’s self-curation and validation-seeking. Telling the story of a young woman attempting to better her life in a world where every social situation results in ratings out of five and forever beholder to your personal score that determines your social mobility, employability and value. But the saying goes “all that goes up, must come down”, resulting in reputations nosediving fast. And trust me, 4.2 stars Lacie did.
Although, rather than enjoying my Netflix dedicated evening, typically partnered with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s and endless Instagram scrolling, I was left unnerved, troubled and immobilised from my iPhone. It’s horrifying that we are simply one step away from this reality becoming the backbone of a future society. Since when did it become more farfetched to imagine a world without smartphones and social media, than it did to imagine this ‘Nosedive’ world? But with the scary revelation of China’s plans to create their own sinister ‘social credit’ system. All we’re missing is the Google Glass like contact lenses, the advertising holograms specifically tailored to ones hopes and desires and the technological database.
Now, I got to admit, as a PR student, I often blame my social media obsession on my lecturers demands to create an online presence. Fooling myself into thinking that I am really not as reliant or bothered about the activity on my social platforms, when in actual fact, I’m just like everybody else. No matter how hard we try to keep both feet on the ground, there is always going to be the slightest satisfaction you feel when someone likes that profile photo you feel less ugly than usual in. Or the popular girl from school who always used to bully you giving you a retweet. Yes, it’s trivial, but sadly in today’s society, it’s become the norm.
However, this episode soon snowballed from a creepy smiling utopia to a downright, downhill disaster. After facing some major bumps along the road, Lacie soon plummeted to an embarrassingly low score, leaving her no choice but to commit social suicide and face the consequences. Highlighting the pressure people put on oneself to achieve the sought after 5.0 rating, or at least give the illusion of living the life of Martha Stewart. Which makes me wonder, in a world full of ‘likes’ and quantifying influence and success on social media, are these platforms doing more harm than good? Have we become so obsessed with gaining affirmation that we fall victim to hysteria and anxiety?
Either way, this eerily anticipated future still leaves PR practitioners with a job. Which begs the question, are you the social climber influencer or the unsung hero willing to try and desperately put people back together?