As you can probably imagine from someone who runs a website called Strangestories, I’m enthralled and fascinated by Black Mirror, the TV show written by Charlie Brooker. I also feel extremely close to the atmospheres depicted in the show; the lunacies, the grotesque yet realistic situations and the excesses caused by the exploitation of an always more refined and invasive technology. I recognize them as my territory and, as much as they are original, I can’t say that I have been shocked by them. It’s all out there, it just takes a brilliant mind endowed with skills of foresight to spot them and turn them into a fictional reality. This brilliant mind is Charlie Brooker, of course. That being said, does it make Black Mirror the ultimate TV show of our times, the Twilight Zone of our era? Of all the good reasons you could love Black Mirror for – the original, thought-provoking plots, the twist endings, the usually superb acting – there’s one that beats them all. The most important. And the scariest. Black Mirror depicts a future society which is not really a “future” society, rather a development of our present society. One of the most eloquent examples of this continuity is represented by the episode The Entire History Of You, the last one of the first season. The story is set in a world where everyone has a micro camera implanted in their head, running 24/7. Everyone films their whole lives and spends a significant part of their time re-watching their own everyday feats. Does it ring any bells? Google Glasses? A super miniaturized GoPro? Quite so. But let’s leave aside the technical aspect for a moment, and let’s focus on what Black Mirror is really about: the relationship between human beings and technology.
How different from what we currently do on social media is this idea of filming all your life and then watching the highlights to celebrate yourself? Let’s do a quick recap on the topic: we write stuff and post photos and videos of ourselves and someone else, the main reason why we also post other people’s content being that posting our beloved self only would bother our friends pretty quickly. According to all the major studies on the subject, the biggest drive to social media is not keeping in touch with friends, sharing or enriching ourselves. Not really. The main drive to log in every given day to Facebook, Twitter et cetera is basically gratifying our ego, feeding it regularly with likes and comments and have our brain release the dose of dopamine we need to get by. In terms of inner motivation, how different is that from filming our lives and watching our personal highlights anytime we need a shot of self-assurance? Does it sound so unheard of and horrible? Not so much, after all, eh? And so we go back to square one, technology.
Why do we show off on social media? Because we can. But why don’t we film our enthralling lives for us and any other interested audience to see? Because we can’t. As yet.