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Black Mirror Offers us a Telling Reflection on Our Relationship with Social Media

The Show: Black Mirror, Season 3, Episode 1

The Moment: The truck ride

In a near future where people rate one another via their phones, and one’s rating determines social status, Lacie (Bryce Dallas Howard) is in a panic. She’s trying to get to a wedding full of “high 4’s” but due to travel screw-ups, her own rating keeps falling.

Truck driver Susan (Cherry Jones), whose rating is a low 1.4, offers Lacie a ride. Reluctantly, Lacie climbs in, then surreptitiously checks Susan’s feed. Susan notices.

“1.4 — gotta be an anti-social maniac, right?" Susan asks.

Lacie’s not accustomed to honesty. “No,” she says, “you seem —”

“Normal?” Susan asks. “It took some effort. You don’t look like a 2.8.”

“I got marked down at the airport for yelling,” Lacie explains.

“How did it feel?” Susan asks.

“Awful,” Lacie replies.

“I meant the yelling,” Susan says.

As you probably know, the title of this anthology series refers to our screens, and the episodes are cautionary tales against willingly subjugating ourselves to technology. This one, “Nosedive,” directed by Joe Wright (Atonement) and written by Parks and Recreation veterans Rashida Jones and Michael Schur (creator of The Good Place, which I’ll discuss next week), is more comedic than most. But it’s onto something about our near-constant need for validation.

The last 50 years of sci-fi were about the terrible things science was doing to us (pollution, nuclear war, lab-accident diseases). The next 50 will be about what we’re doing to ourselves. We see what’s coming, like an audience in a horror movie hollering, “Don’t open that door!” But we shrug and check our “Likes” anyway.

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