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ATIENZA, Ysabella A.

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A Reaction Paper on Black Mirror’s Season 3 – Episode 1: Nosedive

Black Mirror is a British anthology series created by Charlie Brooker wherein a different
plot, setting, and set of characters is featured in every episode. Each of its episodes illustrates either
a dystopian or utopian future setting that revolves around the morbid relationship between humans
and technology, conforming to Sophie Gilbert of Nosedive is the first episode in
the third of season of the series and is directed by the infamous Pride and Prejudice director, Joe
Wright; written by Michael Schur and Rashida Jones; starring Bryce Dallas Howard among others;
and aired on October 21, 2016 on Netflix. Nosedive conveys how the nature of human connection
can be altered by technology.

To give a short summary of the show, Lacie (Howard) lives in an unspecified yet futuristic
society that operates under a social-rating system that determines one’s socioeconomic standing;
wherein civilians are equipped with phones and retinal implants that allow them to view each
other’s lives and/or ranks online, as well as rate one another based on their every encounter. She
is always wary of her rating despite having a 4.2 rating as she is vying to be a 4.5 in order to
acquire a nicer place. She discovered a way to achieve her target when she was invited to the “high
fours”-dominated wedding of Bethany, her 4.8 old friend, as the maid of honor. A disastrous chain
of events transpired as Lacie is en route to the occasion that prompted her rating to take a nosedive.
Despite going through mishaps and having her wedding invitation revoked, she gatecrashes the
event appearing out of her mind. The episode ends with Lacie in prison, stripped of her retinal
implants, lashing out with no care of such ratings anymore.

In relation to the lessons and springboards tackled, Nosedive surprisingly exhibits

responsible use of social media yet illustrates the murky effects of “artificial human
connection/communication” initially. One might say that their situation is better than what we have
at the present since the civilians from the show were treating each other with respect online and
offline, and only ignore those with significant low ratings. However, I see an issue with this for
what drives them to act such way is self-interest, and not genuine respect and concern for others.
They are seeking after artificial perfection that is bound to erase human touch in the intrinsic
human communication. Connecting this episode to a TED talk of Sherry Turkle entitled
“Connected, but alone?”, the characters only had mere connections, not conversations; virtually
and personally connecting, but never truly there to converse – to just talk without considering their
standings. Turkle’s sentiment on mobile phones being psychologically powerful for it do not
merely change what humans do, but on who they are as well, is manifested on the mere fact that
their society’s system is social media-driven.
The show had aroused a variety of reactions from me throughout. There were bewilderment
and amazement at over how the technology behind the social-rating system came to be; agitation
when Lacie went through a whirlwind of unfortunate events; sympathy at how civilians with low
ratings were treated like plagues; empathy for I can only imagine how tiring it must be to need to
look and act flawless consistently; pressure on their notion of “no room for mistakes, slips, and
any form of deviation”; and fear as I contemplate if our future is anywhere near gearing towards
such system. This dread became even more amplified when I have discovered that a system akin
to the show’s has already been present since 2014 in China. Considering the country’s heavy
reliance on technology to organize its citizens, businesses, etc. and how 80% of its people are in
favor of their social credit system may certainly justify their choice to create such a system.
However, I have seen and studied how several social systems were invented with the betterment
of all in mind yet eventually led people to doom, which may happen for both Nosedive and China.
Nosedive may have not explained everything about the social-rating system, but such thing
is normal for any films or shows to generate more curiosity from its audience that may lead them
to have discourses about it. The show has definitely caused several speculations in social media
and inspired the mass in different ways.

In conclusion, Nosedive illustrates how heavy reliance on, and idolization of technology
can significantly change the intrinsic human connection despite showcasing responsible use of
social media that is mostly rooted from ingenuine acts. And all things considered, I recommend
Nosedive to anyone, especially to those losing their human touch in communication for it will
spark one’s mind to retrace his/her steps as he/she continues to live in this soon to be absolute
technology-driven world.