I came across an Instagram meme of someone deactivating all their social media accounts along with the caption, “after watching the first episode of Black Mirror”. This of course made me curious about what the episode was about. I’ve heard about Black Mirror before, so I thought I’d give it a shot.
The Instagram post I saw was referring to Black Mirror, Season 3, Episode 1 – Nosedive. The episode was pretty good – I would recommend others to watch it if they haven’t so already. In this episode, the social media app that was used was one where you can score the people you encounter in your day to day life – coworkers, friends, waiters, baristas, etc. Like Instagram, you can also post pictures on this app to be rated by others which contribute to your overall score as well. These scores are accessible to everyone on their phones. In this society, you also get special privileges when you have high scores, such as being able to buy a house in a lavish neighbourhood. In this episode, you see what happens to a woman who is obsessed with boosting her social media score.
In some ways, the events seen on Nosedive is already happening now. I’ve heard of stories of people who planned out their Instagram posts to paint a picture of the perfect life in order to get tons of likes and followers. Eventually, reality caught up with them and they found it hard to keep up with the facade, causing a mental breakdown. They got addicted to the likes and followers that they did whatever it took to maintain their popularity, whether they were being true to themselves or not.
After finishing this episode, the first thing I thought was that I hope this episode was not a foresight to social media in the future. Just like how banks look at your credit score before giving you a loan or how employers look at your resume before deciding to give you an interview, you would now be assessed based on your social media score as well. This would obviously cause you to be obsessed in making people like you in order to achieve high scores and maintain it. You’d have a bunch of people walking around being a fake. Also, it’s pretty invasive when, for example, people sitting beside you on the subway are able to check out your score without your knowing and judge you accordingly. (Oh jeez, this guy has a score of 2.5 / 5… what is wrong with him? Maybe I should avoid eye contact with him just in case. OR Damn, she has a score of 4.6 / 5 … Not really a fan of her outfit, but let me just lie and tell her I like it anyways so that she can like me and hopefully boost my score since I really need that house.) It’s quite scary actually when you think about it and I really hope social media never advances to this state. To my surprise, I found out there actually was an app created that was sort of similar to the app on Nosedive called Peeple, but thank the Lord, it never got popular enough to take off.
When it comes to social media, I think its all about balance. When people say their new years resolution is to quit social media cold turkey, I am the first to doubt it being successful because let’s be real… that’s not happening. Social media plays a great role in today’s society and if you don’t adapt to it, you’ll feel out of the loop because almost everything is on social media these days. People connect with each other via social media. Information gets relayed on social media, such as events, product reviews, world news, etc. Even my mom, who I thought would never be interested in or understand social media, is now all about JuTube (how she pronounces YouTube) and looks forward to watching new videos to the channels she’s subscribed to.
In my opinion, social media only becomes a problem when you are obsessed with it, such as neglecting your responsibilities because you are always lurking on your social media accounts. It becomes a problem when you find yourself oversharing every single detail of your life and waiting eagerly for feedback from your friends/followers. It becomes a problem when you’re obsessed with the numbers. (My friend once mentioned to me that Sunday and Monday evenings were considered prime times to post on IG because that’s when most will be bored and on their phones = more likes.) It becomes a problem when you start getting envious of other people’s lives and compare yourself to them. It becomes a problem when you are in a social setting, yet glued to your phone instead of socializing with others.
Back in my university days, I would always be on my computer on Facebook. Facebook would be one of the tabs that were open and I’d refresh it regularly. I’d even deactivate it because I couldn’t focus on studying for my exams, only to reactivate it again less than 48 hours later. When I realized how obsessed I was with it, I started finding other things to do and eventually started to go on it less. Now I find I don’t go on it as much as I did back then, but still check it here and there to find out about current events on my newsfeed and be up to date. Social media is a great tool to share information, thoughts, opinions, pictures, recipes, and more. Therefore, in my opinion, a more reasonable “resolution” would be to balance the use of social media, not cut it out completely. But hey, if you want to cut out social media cold turkey, you do you. And if you’re successful at it too, kudos to you! I for sure could never do it.
And once again, crossing fingers for apps like Peeple to never get popular!!!
**Featured image cartoon was found on instagram by @butlikemaybe **