Black Mirror, released in 2011, invites viewers to see, for better, or for worse, a dark, some would say dystopian, future where technology has evolved to be addicting, hostile, alienating, and invasive(Duarte and Battin, 2021). The series involves stand-alone episodes investigating a twisted high-tech dystopian universe where the most incredible humanity breakthroughs and the worst instincts collide. The series prompts viewers to get out of the complex innovation trance and consider technology’s potential implications for a moment. Several episodes in the Black mirror, each with an independent story, focus on how the cutting-edge technology traps individuals into virtual captivity instead of facilitating the modern conveniences as it is believed to.
Black mirror validates people’s addiction to technology. Brooker handles the theme of immortality, memory reproduction, and technology fixation. The series explains how technology has controlled the current generation. The black mirror devices that people encounter will never allow them to have fundamental human interactions and understanding. Human beings accept the developments in technology, especially in media technology, as a natural thing because, through these devices, they perceive what they term as everyday life. The technological developments are accompanied by radical cognitive transformation for everyday life, which transpires without notice(Duarte and Battin, 2021. The program comments on the relationship between technology and thematic concerns such as addiction to social media and digitally-enabled mob mentality. Moreover, the program represents common scenarios, such as the use of currency to bypass digital advertisements and the performance of digital blackmail through malware-enabled hacking.
Black mirror has permeated every home across the globe. Each episode occurs in a specific moment, including the present, the future, and the distant future. As the program progressed, it introduced more complex technologies, and it focused on impacting the advances of technology on human morality, political processes, and decision-making. The program outline how technology will contribute to the downfall of humanity understory it ultimately (Duarte and Battin, 2021). While there are some incidences of hope of how the advances in technology can be beneficial to people, such as in season three, episode four, the black mirror is composed of an outlook of how technology has control over the human race. The program is outlined to move the episodes around to make sense of the particular piece of technology. Some of the instances highlight how technology trajectories aim at destroying morality and humanity.
Today’s world, which has regular technological advancements, indicates how individuals are detached from actual social life. Analyzing the black mirror episodes, we realize that people are involved much in social media and forget about reality; thus, technology can transform and harm the behavior of human beings (Boren, 2015). Simply, the black mirror represents what is in front of human beings after the termination of technology, which shows the dark side of progress. The digital prints of social media are permanent, which means that the digital prints that individuals create in the presence and in the coming years will stay forever. Thus, anyone with the technology knowledge can misuse the information to accomplish nothing.
Each episode follows a different storyline unique to the Technology in Black Mirror, acting as a catalyst for analyzing society’s relationship with technology and media(Boren, 2015). Analyzing three episodes, ”Fifteen Million Merits” season 1 episode 2, ”Nosedive” season 3 episode 1, and ”The Black Museum” season 4 episode 6, locating critical points from each episode to examine society’s relationship with technology. ”Fifteen Million Merits” will explore technology’s influence on gamification, the commodity, and consumer spectacle. At the same time, ”Nosedive” will investigate how technology and media affect identity and the episodes representation of state control, looking at a case study of China’s social credit system. Last but not least, ”The Black Museum” invites our society to question the morals and ethics of society’s relationship with technology; it is not just technology but how technology can be manipulated and used while examining ownership and responsibility.
2.0 Literature Review
The utilization of modern technology has resulted in a complete revolution of modern societies. The process goes beyond the purely technological aspects by changing individuals’ behaviors and opening doors to new risks. The series Black Mirror, one of the most dystopias in technology that deals with technology, explains deeper the uses and effects of the technology, allowing the identification of the risks accompanying the new socio-technological paradigms. A study conducted in Researchgate found that social media, smartphones, tablets, and technological implants are the recent technologies; in the series, the technology is outlined in a negative perspective and has adverse effects on society with full risks (Constant and Opazo, 2018). The study indicated the most relevant adverse effects to be the loss of security and privacy, the lack of differentiation between the virtual and the real world, and the emergence of addictive behaviors. Henceforth, the similarity of the series with the reality of the targeted population makes the series a potential tool for educating about such matters.
The increased use of technology has contributed to the reduction of communication skills and the working knowledge of individuals. The level of literacy people has increased, and the issues that individuals are facing are intertwined. The huge established industry is desperate to remain in power cheaply and desperate while remaining profitable as possible. The individuals’ anxiety over online bullying, privacy issues, independence loss, and other psychosocial stress contribute to cognitive change. As life becomes more monitored, individuals’ private space will become public, which will contribute to more stress in their lives (Webster, 2020). The pace at which technology is being created is faster than the understanding of individuals and the development of their critical thinking. The phase of technology has blinded individuals and forced them to believe that they can solve their social problems using technology. The main reason technology will continue to undermine human cognition is that the people who run the companies that dominate the space do not know human society. Hence, the platforms will compromise democracy, humanity, and essential values.
The use of technology has dramatically affected human behavior. People are becoming less patient in many ways. People want to get answers right away, either through a click or swipe, which gives them unrealistic expectations of success. Also, people find social inclusion more essential and spend most of their time focusing on social networking sites and what others think about them (Webster, 2020). Thus, this damages self-worth as most individuals spends most of their time pleasing others.
Research conducted by Blanco (2019) analyzes the influences that technology has on society in its everyday existence while comparing it with the Black mirror series. Black mirror demonstrates the second decade in the new millennium by creating a space of shared imagination. Generally, the series is perceived as a dystopic vision of the future. The program is more reflective of the present day than the imaginary future. It evaluates the intersection between technology and contemporary concerns such as the addiction to social media and the digitally enabled mentality (Blanco-Herrero and Rodríguez-Contreras, 2019). There is a presentation of common scenarios in the program, such as using currency to bypass advertisements in the digital world. Additionally, the program illustrates the technologies commonly used in the current world, such as the systems of rating based on social media.
The fifteen million merits introduce the present world scenarios, the paths that might be followed, and the problems associated with the directions. The episode highlights the dystopian world where most individuals spend most of their time watching live broadcasts to compensate for the dullness of their lives (Blanco-Herrero and Rodríguez-Contreras, 2019). The episode picks on technologies that we observe in our daily lives showing that the systems can be transformed into ways that encourage demeaning activities. The episode explains how gamification, the commodity, and the spectacle are influenced by technology.
According to Allard-Huver, and Escurignan (2018), the Nosedive season shows how the self-generated in-content interferes with the area of freedom of individuals. The episodes represent the dehumanization process brought by communication and information technologies, which is one of the visible themes that are evident throughout the episode. They further explain that digital communication contributes to flattening communication and maximizes the difficulty of creating a meaningful statement. Individuals are perceived as doing better when they have more likes and friends. Therefore, the fear of being executed and seeking recognition of fictional society. Thus, the digital community of control intensively uses freedom and the impacts of self-exposure, which undermines freedom.
According to research conducted by Haynes (2020), the Black Museum reflects how we view technology. Platforms like Facebook do not feel like mirrors of humanity; instead, they feel like cattle chutes that lead users to a limited range of information and choices. Criticism has started facing inventors who exploit human vulnerability. The use of technology has been significantly misused by individuals who are only interested in their feeling.
Black Mirror is a program that indicates how technology is the origin of human suffering. The program evaluates the different ways in which individuals are hurt and grieve, and the way innovation separates people, the community, and ideologies (Blanco-Herrero and Rodríguez-Contreras, 2019). Humans get into trouble when they try to overcome humanity by treating spirits and emotions like science. There is increased use of digital technology in crime and is the possible cause of geopolitical conflicts.
3.0 CHAPTER 1: Fifteen Million Merits
The fifteen million merit season one episode two is an episode that is inspired by the idea of Huq that her husband, who had an obsession with technology, would be happy when he was in a room that was covered with screens. The episode demonstrates the dystopian world where most individuals are involved in ongoing physical work (Boren, 2015).The episode explores how technology influences gamification, the commodity, and the spectacle to the consumers.
3.1 Authenticity Becomes a Commodity
The possession of particular objects or products can act as a symbol representing an individual’s social status and might define wealth or success. In this context, the appearance of the commodity is more decisive than the actual use-value. The notion of “appearing into” the commodity consumption can be attached in the fifteen merits season two episode one. The universe promotes the alternative form of consumerism whereby the laborers spend their hard-earned money on non-beneficial entertainment or digital clothes. Also, they spent their merits on items to customize their avatars to allow themselves to have an individuality semblance in an environment that is lifeless and cold (Bassil-Morozow, 2021).
Fifteen merits also represent the critique of the relationship that society has with fame, the celebrity notion, and the rise in the reality television show that is exploitative. The increase in the digital age contributed to the demand for passive televisual entertainment. Society has become more reliant on virtual culture and entertainment to cope with the capitalist system(Sebastián-Martín, 2021). Additionally, the episode shows how the fame-hungry individuals were seeking their fifteen minutes of fame desperately and who have lusted in involving themselves in other people’s private lives. In the modern world, many individuals have turned into a celebrity who is adored by millions of people to have vast amounts of wealth. Indeed, the celebrity lifestyle and the media obsession are associated with the current reality that it is image-saturated. The celebrities are viewed as representing a perfect life, perfect image, and individuals that promote the accumulation of commodity by representing their personality with an image. By purchasing the commodity of stars, individuals believe that they are living the best portion of their lives. In a state that involves hyper-reality, where every image refers to the other image, commodities derive their values from their comparison with other commodities (Draney, 2018). Therefore, the products are valued under capitalism through their capability to be exchanged with other products instead of valuing them for their utility; hence, this is the state of the capitalist society in the fifteen million merits that is satirized.
3.2 Gamification and Automation
Gamification is the application of game systems to non-game activities such as fitness and exercise, the productivity of an individual during employment hours, or things that cause enhancement in life. The gamification systems are designed about a particular model of time as a thing that can be tracked, reflected on, and optimized consequently. Digital technology has broadly contributed to the transformation in the ability of managers to track and monitor work, and gamification, when applied in these ends, is an example of the growing technology (Johnson, 2018). Therefore, gamification enhances the life aspects that are more playful by making them more enjoyable.
The fifteen million merits explore the potential future for gamification. All life activities have been associated with a sort of fun system.In these episodes, every individual must cycle on a power bike to generate currency known as merits and power their surroundings. The episode is a satire of modern society. In most developed countries, people are obsessed with making money which is evident in this episode because of the dystopian world portrayed by the episode where the individuals are obsessed with making merits(Johnson, 2018). The biking represents how the dystopian society in a more extensive system is a cog, and their work seems to be meaningless with no well-defined goals.
The media consumed in this episode is shaped by gamification. For instance, when Bing gifts Abi the “golden ticket,” the tickets appear to shimmer gold graphics that appear on the, I screen more prominent than a thing that has ever come before(Johnson, 2018). This can be termed as juices in the game design, where color, graphics, sound, and dramatic animations are used to make things appear more exciting. Consequently, he does not gift Abi in person, but instead, he uses an avatar that delivers it. Thus, the game-like elements increase the distance between the laborers and anything that can be viewed as accurate.
3.3 The spectacle
Today, live streaming is becoming a significant site where millions of individuals consume media from. Live streaming allows individuals to become a TV providers by broadcasting content at their homes. The streamers have developed ways to improve the income that they acquire from their viewers, which are the spectators. In some incidences, they might be forced to post exploitive and degenerative videos, which affect the spectators’ minds (Johnson, 2018). They might be controversial in what they say or what they wear so that they can stand out in the crowded marketplace. Thus, the allure that the technology gives to digital celebrities is encouraging celebrities in the real world to broadcast some extreme activities that lead to shocking outcomes.
In contemporary society, individuals have a deep obsession with the celebrity figure. In the fifteen million merits, most individuals spend most of their workdays peddling the bike to power their screens and technologies. This can be observed through the eye of Bling, a laborer who is apathetic and spends most of his time looking for authenticity, which is uncertain in this world. The inhabitants of the individuals in this episode are a one-room cell that has no windows, mainly constructed with a screen that they spent most of their time watching pornography and other exploitive reality television shows (Conway, 2019).Henceforth, the episode’s setting is a clear illustration of spectacle whereby the spectacle, which is the visual manifestation that appears to the spectator by the use of media, becomes unavoidable physically. Also, the spectators are harassed by the advertisements that pop up randomly on the screens they are using, and they are forced to pay for the digital currency if they need to avoid the publicity.
4.0 CHAPTER 2: NoseDive
The Nosedive is an episode set in a world where individuals can rate each other in a range of five stars for every interaction they have, hence impacting their socioeconomic status. A young woman knew a Lacie was obsessed with her ratings (Framke, 2016). She gets an opportunity to increase considerably and relocate to a luxurious apartment after choosing her childhood friend, who was famous as the maid of honor at her wedding.
4.1 How Technology and Media Affect Identity
Nosedive provides a perspective on social media identities. In the beginning, the social identity for Lacie was overall positive. She never seemed to break from a positive nature unless her brother was present when she felt that she could be herself. In the episode, the social rating that an individual had determined the type of job they would be offered, the places they live, friends, and can provide a significant boost to their lives (Erol, 2018). If a person gets more likes from everyone and has high social scores, they are more likely to rise in their career. Also, they could afford a much better living style at a better price. Consequently, it becomes the complete opposite if an individual cannot obtain good scores. They are isolated by society, cannot afford to drive in stable vehicles, and can lose their jobs. Henceforth, this use of technology similar to social media can be dangerous to the way of living of an individual.
The episode can be compared to contemporary society, primarily based on social media. People’s identity is based on the profile that anyone can view and an overall rating based on how they interact with people. In the episode, when an individual posts a nice photo, they are rated, and when they get five stars, it increases their ratings. There is an incidence whereby Lacie receives four stars from her friend who is of high socioeconomic status, but she is not happy because she expects higher ratings from her. Additionally, she is jealous and unsatisfied with her life (Nurvitasari, 2018). She is unwilling to live in a reality that can also be associated with the contemporary world whereby individuals are using social media to express their fake lives. Not everyone can fit in the unrealistic standards that the media promotes as Lucie’s friends did. Therefore, the system is unfair because only those who fit in the social norm of society can succeed.
As discussed, the Nosedive episodes help us understand the dangers that occur when we take social media seriously and how it can affect an individual’s identity. In the current society, social media can be a trapping tool or a fun. Many videos from Instagram stars have demonstrated how they were unable to endure the overwhelming pressure in social media, such as bullying of their children and siblings (Hodgson, 2019). The social media instances can be transferred into the real world, where people judge individuals based on who they are in person.
4.2 How Technology and Media Affect State Control
Nosedive explores the outcomes of dystopian in a world of new technologies, state control, and surveillance. Lacie seeks to increase her rating to get a luxurious apartment; however, her ratings are stagnant. She later receives an invitation to a wedding from her childhood friend, who increases her ratings (Lay, 2020). Lucie agrees and commits to the apartment while she aims at getting more ratings from the guests at the wedding. However, the worst happened, and on the day she was about to take the flight, some mishaps occurred, and she was rated negatively by some individuals reducing her rating. Thus, her flight was canceled, and when she created a scene, she received a penalty that subtracted her total points for twenty-four hours (Kraciuk, 2020). She is forced to hire an old car, but her friend refuses to attend the wedding because she will reduce her rating too, but she forcefully listens and makes the speech-making her rating fall below one.
As discussed above, it is evident that technology can significantly contribute to state control whereby individuals are denied the freedom of expression and privacy. People live in fear with faked high-class standards to get a high rating. Those with fewer ratings are neglected and cannot associate with their friends who have high ratings, just like Lacie’s friend. Also, the activities can cause more damage to society. After all, the majority of the individuals end up being neglected, just the way Lacie got imprisoned and her friend’s husband died due to cancer due to their inability to access better medical services because they had poor ratings (Lay, 2020). This kind of technology that contributes to state control is emerging in the current world. For instance, the military technologies that have been designed spy the individuals based on the strategies of management that use global positioning satellites and other scopes.
The episode features the modern technology experienced in the contemporary world. As the social media star ratings in Nosedive, the china communist government is adopting the Social Credit System (SCS), which will be used to rate its citizens in terms of trustworthiness (Kraciuk, 2020). Like the surveillance technology in Nosedive, the use of the internet, mobile devices, and CCTV will be used to track the citizens and generate a credit score that is quantified based on the activities and movements they undertake. Henceforth, the tracking of the private lives of individuals will be a norm. According to the information provided, it will classify whom to be punished or awarded regarding the feedback. The scores that an individual receives will determine their success, such as permission to own a car, apply for jobs, get a mortgage, and rule the ability of children to attend a particular school (Lay, 2020). Therefore, this indicates that the dystopian outcomes demonstrated in the Nosedive episode are coming into reality.
The individual who supports the social credit system claims that it will regulate social behaviors and traditional moral values. The non-supporters claim that the system will interfere with the legal rights of the residents, especially the right to reputation. Like the surveillance in Nosedive, the system will contribute to a division between the individuals with low ratings and those with a higher rating. Such a system can create a society that creates different classes of people depending on their social credit or the ratings that they get from the system (Lay, 2020). Those with higher ratings will gain a higher social class from the rewards they get, while those with the lower ratings will remain stagnant hence contributing to more harm than benefits. Individuals who get high ranks can take advantage of business discounts, hence gaining access to better social privileges. The individual ranked at the bottom will become second-class citizens. Therefore, the system will allow individuals with higher resources to get more financial breakthroughs while those with fewer resources are punished. For instance, individuals might have their ratings reduced after losing their job, and unemployment prevents them from getting another job. Hence the individual remains stagnant in the same social class.
5.0 Chapter 3: The Black Museum
The black museum is the sixth episode in season four of the black mirror series. In the black museum episode, a young woman named Nish is stranded upon a museum in the middle of nowhere with the name Rolo Hayne’s Black Museum. The artifacts in the museum are all associated with crimes. Rolo takes Nish through the different exhibitions by relating the stories behind the display artfully (McSweeney and Joy, 2019). The tales are more engaging and disturbing. The stories that Rolo narrates provide a detailed potential for destruction that occurs when the failure of humanity is connected with the more outstanding technology capabilities.
5.1 Morals and Ethics of Society’s Relationship with Technology
The black museum delivers science fiction stories that demonstrate racism and the black experience. The film uses cultural aesthetics to combine science fiction elements, hurting the present expertise that the blacks have and excavating their past (McSweeney and Joy, 2019). The problem with most science fiction is that they use technology to reduce racism into hatred based on the circumstances and the emotions. The museum is run by Rolo, who purchases black bodies for his gains in the black museum. This wicked tradition of buying and selling black bodies brings the memories of bloodshed that the blacks faced. Additionally, the black museum is a curiosity of shop horrors meant to cause emotional pain to the visitors (Gamez and Johnson, 2019). Thus, the black museum brings light on how media consumption reveals the exploitation of black pain and how the criminal justice subject black men to the whims of the highest bidder.
The three arcs of the episode demonstrate how technology has contributed to the loss of morals by individuals. In the first arc, a harried doctor uses a sensation-sharing implant to diagnose patients hence becomes addicted to the fear and pain of other people. In the second, a man implants the consciousness of his wife into his head which slows puts her in a mental prison, and their relationship ends. Lastly, Haynes resurrects an individual with execution signs in his mind as a hologram that the self-righteous visitors in the museum can torture(Gamez and Johnson, 2019). Therefore, this represents how technology depletes the moral values in the current society whereby individuals use technology to take advantage of others for their benefit. For instance, individuals can be conned through social media when they are provided with fake information about an item or through cyber crimes such as cyber malware.
Black museum elaborates how technology can contribute to depletion in morals through invasive surveillance. In the episode, the memory re-reading strict machine contributes to the killing of Mia. Hence, the technology dramatically contributes to the depletion of morality that is evident through murder, which occurs when the technology pushes the individuals capable of murder to murder individuals by tracking them using surveillance cameras(Gamez and Johnson, 2019). Also, technology has contributed to increased theft cases that are contributed by face-recognition cameras.
The black museum has represented the cruelty that technology can bring to individuals. Through the use of technology, the doctor can get an implant with the help of Haynes, which allows him to detect the pain of his patients in exchange for him to gain an advantage in the bedroom. Therefore, this is cruel because the doctors took advantage of technology to get pleasure through other individuals’ pain. Another incidence is when Haynes uses a device to lure Carrie, who is in a coma after getting involved in an accident, to admit transferring her consciousness to her husband jack. Therefore, Jack lacks privacy while Carrie lacks agency (McSweeney and Joy, 2019). Later, Carrie’s consciousness is placed in monkey stuff that only says monkey loves you or monkey needs a hug. Thus, this is a more terrible action that contributed to a lack of respect and morals influenced by technology. Henceforth, technology has influenced how individuals feel or value others’ feelings in the current society. Most people only care about their feelings, and their actions using technology are only beneficial to them. People are using technology to abuse others and even, to some extent, invade their privacy (Gamez and Johnson, 2019). Tracking systems can be used to track an individual mobile phone, laptop, or computer and monitor their daily activities, which interferes with their privacy. Others can install hidden CCTV cameras to be able to watch their spouses without getting their consent. As discussed, the use of technology can negatively interfere with the moral values of others and can contribute to hurting individuals’ emotions and interfering with their privacy.
5.2 Responsibility and Ownership
The primary revelation in the black museum indicates that both the technology, the individuals who are the spectators, and the terrible people can be blamed for the bad moral behavior evident in society. Individuals collaborate to allow technology to gradually consume every facet of their lives. Haynes only targets individuals that are desperate to take risks (Cavanan, 2019). To some point, the black museum shows a change in how people view technology. Some platforms such as Facebook no longer mirror humanity. The critics of social media have been blamed on the reckless inventors who exploit the vulnerability of humans. Henceforth, the assumptions show how people are stupid to understand the dangers of technology, focusing their anger on superficial issues.
The paper has discussed the relationship between technology and society concerning the incidences in the “Black Mirror “program. The utilization of modern technology has resulted in a complete revolution of modern societies. The revolution goes beyond the purely technological aspects by changing individuals’ behaviors and opening doors to new risks. The series Black Mirror, one of the most dystopias in technology that deals with technology, explains deeper the uses and effects of the technology, allowing the identification of the risks accompanying the new socio-technological paradigms. Various issues have been identified in the different seasons. The paper has majored on the fifteen million merits, the Nosedive, and the black museum episodes, and the reflection they give concerning the relationship between technology and society.
The fifteen merits reflect three factors in technology that affect their relationship with society. The factors include gamification, spectacle, and authenticity. The gamification systems are designed about a particular model of time as a thing that can be tracked, reflected on, and optimized consequently. Digital technology has broadly contributed to the transformation in the ability of managers to track and monitor work; gamification, when applied in these ends, is an example of the growing technology. The media consumed in the fifteen merits episode is shaped by gamification. In this episode, every individual must cycle on a power bike to generate currency known as merits and power their surroundings. The episode is a satire of modern society. In most developed countries, people are obsessed with making money which is evident in this episode because of the dystopian world portrayed by the episode where the individuals are obsessed with making merits.
The setting of the fifteen merit episode is a clear illustration of spectacle whereby the spectacle, which is the visual manifestation that appears to the spectator by the use of media, becomes unavoidable physically. This is clearly illustrated by how individuals’ unrealistic videos affect their thinking. Fifteen merits also represent the critique of the relationship that society has with fame, the celebrity notion, and the rise in the reality television show that is exploitative. The increase in the digital age contributed to the demand for passive televisual entertainment. Society has become more reliant on virtual culture and entertainment to cope with the capitalist system.
The Nosedive episodes help in understanding the dangers that occur when we take social media seriously and how it can affect an individual’s identity. In the current society, social media can be a trapping tool or a fun. Many videos from Instagram stars have demonstrated how they were unable to endure the overwhelming pressure. Also, the episode shows how the use of technology can significantly contribute to state control whereby the individuals are denied the freedom of expression and privacy. People live in fear with faked high-class standards to get a high rating. Those with fewer ratings are neglected and cannot associate with their friends who have high ratings. Just like the social media star ratings in Nosedive, china communist government is adopting the Social Credit System (SCS), which will be used to rate its citizens in terms of trustworthiness.
The black museum brings light on how media consumption reveals the exploitation of black pain and how the criminal justice subject black men to the whims of the highest bidder.The episode represents how technology depletes the moral values in the current society whereby individuals use technology to take advantage of others for their benefit. For instance, through social media, individuals can be conned with fake information that lures them to reveal their details. The technology is an excellent contribution to the depletion of morality that is evident through murder that occurs when the technology pushes the individuals capable of murder to murder individuals by tracking them using the surveillance cameras. People are using technology to abuse others and even, to some extent, invade their privacy. Monitoring systems can be used to track an individual mobile phone, laptop, or computer and monitor their daily activities, which interferes with their privacy.
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