Netflix original shows have been increasing in popularity for years, with shows such as Stranger Things and Orange is the New Black being practically all that people on social media can talk about. One show in particular that got picked up by Netflix has recently gained public interest but not for the same reason as all the others. Black Mirror is a science-fiction series based in Britain that takes a look at the consequences of modern technology. Every episode has a different plotline, different characters, and a different setting, making each episode like its own movie. There are two things each episode has in common: the dark satirical twist on modern society’s technology and the resonating feeling of absolute horror left with the viewer.
One of Black Mirror’s most popular episodes that most accurately sums up what the show is about is titled “Playtest.” To make some money, the main character of the episode volunteers to be the test subject in a new horror video game that bases itself on your own personal fears and puts you in the game. However, when things go awry, the man can’t find his way out of the game, leaving him stuck in a world where he is surrounded by his worst fears. Each episode takes on its own dark twist, and the show as a whole is so discomforting that Stephen King, a genius in the horror genre, labeled the show “terrifying.”
Why is this show so scary to us? There are no ghosts, murderers, or demons in any of the episodes; there is no haunted house or bizarre creature hunting our favorite characters. There are no jump scares or surprises loud enough to make you yell, so why does this show leave everyone feeling so uncomfortable? Well, it’s for no reason other than the fact that it could all very easily come true.
Each episode is based off something that exists right now in technology. In “Playtest,” it’s virtual reality video games. In an episode called “Nosedive” where everyone walks around with ratings given to them by other people floating above their heads, it’s social media in general. In an episode called “White Bear” where a woman is being hunted and everyone just stands by and videotapes it rather than helping her, it’s the fact that we feel the need to livestream everything going on in our lives rather than actually taking part in it. All of the ideas in these episodes seem so harsh and far-fetched, but the fact is that these episodes would not exist if these problems were not already prevalent in today’s society.
We unfollow our friends on social media because we want our followers to following ratios to look better, and at events, we care more about getting videos for our Snapchat stories than we care about actually witnessing the events. Black Mirror forces our society to face the potential consequences of this obsession we have with the latest technology, and that is why it makes the world so uncomfortable…because it is all eerily plausible.
Technology is not a bad thing at all. The way the world can stay interconnected through websites like Twitter and Facebook and news sites like CNN and the way we can contact our loved ones whenever we need to is absolutely incredible. However, shows like Black Mirror open our eyes to the fact that it is possible for technology to go too far. It’s a scary idea, but one that truly needs to be thought about; because if we don’t think about it, then what’s to stop us from ending up as one big, walking, talking rating given to us by our followers?