[Warning: this review contains spoilers]
Social media control a big part of our everyday lives. We post pictures on Facebook or Instagram and keep refreshing the page until we see the approval we are looking for. We wait until the likes and hearts are flowing in. In the first episode of the third season of Black Mirror, this search for validation controls society completely.
Black Mirror is a dark and satirical series, often set in a dystopian future in which humanity is dominated by the bad ‘side effects’ of digital media. Nosedive tells a story set in a pastel-coloured future, where social media have taken over everyone’s lives. Society is based on ratings and validation. Everyone walks around with a score glowing in front of them. You get rated by others on a five-star scale and your score determines your value in society. A high rating enables you to rent a nice apartment, book a flight or get invited to certain events. Protagonist Lacy Pound (Bryce Dallas Howard) has a respectable score of 4.2 in the beginning of the episode, but to get a discount on the price of an apartment she desperately wants, she needs a 4.5. When she is invited to her 4.8-rated ‘best friend’s’ wedding, she sees the perfect opportunity to get that rating. She builds a fake, perfect-looking, wall around her own identity. She practices her laugh in the mirror for example, and takes a bite from her cookie for a picture, but then spits it out.
However, when she tries to take calculated steps on her way up to a higher ranking, everything goes wrong and her score drops dramatically. Still, she tries to make it to her friend’s wedding. After a tragedy of errors, Lacy gets into a truck with Susan, who tells her that she was too obsessed with ratings, until her husband died from cancer because his rating was too low for vital cancer treatment. This story wakes her up and when she arrives at the wedding, where she is no longer welcome, she is drunk and upset. Because of all that happened to her, she has become insane. She gets arrested and her technology gets taken away. The episode ends with Lacy and another prisoner screaming angrily and then happily at each other because it doesn’t affect their scores.
We just need the technology of the glowing score, and we're there.
This episode of Black Mirror was impressive. I tried to watch some other episodes as well, but I found them too upsetting and grim. The image of social media that was portrayed was too exaggerated and hit too close to home. Nosedive was recommended to me and this time I was pleasantly surprised. The use of pastel colors gives the episode an even happier, fake feeling. Because everything is so overly happy and sunny and fake, you immediately get the feeling that something bad is coming. The world that Lacy lives in, is far from perfect and there will come a time when that bubble will burst, which it did.
The ending was very powerful. Where some episodes of Black Mirror have a dark twisted ending, the ending of Nosedive was not. It might be a bit of a bleak ending, but in it were pure expressions of rage and joy. The two people can finally express themselves completely freely, without being judged by others.
The overdone social media universe is an eye opener. The way of living in the future felt very close. We just need the technology of the glowing score, and we're there. The use of pastel colors does not only make the futuristic world look fake and happy, it also provided some food for thought. Maybe we are enjoying our technologies so much that we don't notice the negative side effects of social media. We are often so caught up in our search for validation, that we don't realize that Nosedive may be the future. In this day and age where everyone's Instagram feed is flooded with pictures of others' seemingly perfect lives, it is important to realise that we don't have to be perfect. We don't have to seem flawless all the time, because we simply aren't.