Imagine a world where people are so tied to their devices they don’t bother to look up as they pass each other in the street.
One where they’ve uploaded a photo of their lunch before they’ve even taken a bite out of it and where, if your carefully cultivated social media persona takes a hit online, there are real world consequences. It’s not hard, is it?
And that is essentially the premise of Nosedive, the first episode in Season 3 of Black Mirror, which dropped on Netflix over the weekend.
(It’s been a low burn for Black Mirror withe Season 1 and 2 being critically acclaimed, but Season 3 grabbing public attention).
Over six self-contained episodes the British show, created by Charlie Brooker, tackles what a slightly different or slightly distant future might look like if human beings continue their unhealthy relationship with technology.
In Nosedive, people rate one another based on every single social interaction, creating a sort of social capital that is needed to secure everything from houses, to promotions to cancer treatments.
The main character Lacey becomes increasingly obsessed with her ranking, convinced her value is equivalent to the ever changing number on her smart phone, only to discover that it actually sort of is.
Not every episode of Black Mirror is as blithely satirical as Nosedive. In fact a lot of people don’t make it past episode one, Season 1, in which the British Prime Minister is blackmailed into a sex act with a farm animal.
Nor is every episode as compelling. But some are excellent, some will keep you up for days and all will make you reconsider the way we rarely question the wisdom of allowing ever-more invasive technology into our lives, our homes and even our bodies.
There are of course a few stand out episodes. For me at least, San Junipero is by far the best of Season 3 and not just because it was a welcome relief after episodes two and three scared the begeesus out of me.