Warning: Mild spoilers for S3Ep1 of Black Mirror titled “Nosedive.”
I watched my first episode of Black Mirror by accident. The show has been on my “To Watch” list for several months, especially following the buzz for the “San Junipero” episode. I heard that Black Mirror was a thought provoking, somewhat freaky sci fi show that I would enjoy. It stayed unwatched on my list for several months longer.
In comes Nosedive, the story about a woman who lives in a world where social rankings exist not only for narcissistic purposes, but to determine the quality of life one can live. This rising socialite tries so hard to reach the highest rankings she can to live in her dream place (with her dream boyfriend, dream social life, dream job), and ultimately causes her own crash into infamy along the way. She tried to play the numbers game and she got played. Fortunately, the ending hints at a different life, possibly filled with happiness of an odd sort.
Writing this blog and thinking about the path of my own career, I could see a lot of the world that we live in through this episode. The world that I can choose to struggle in, if I wanted to. I can pay Facebook $3 to boost my post to 700 more people. I can alter my SEO to obtain a higher ranking in Google searches and obtain more organic clicks to my website. It’s a numbers game, and numbers can feel pretty satisfying when they mean they boost your social ranking to some degree. Especially when that boosted social ranking can improve your quality of life by access to different people, opportunities, and the likes. The irony of me posting about this is not lost in the slightest.
Thinking about this numbers game has been a struggle for me. I would much rather think about what I want to write, and share with the world things that I find interesting or would be helpful to others. I want to be authentic, figure out the essence of myself and how to splash that across your screen. If given the choice, I’d rather nosedive (in popularity) than create an atmosphere of artificiality in order to boost my personal rankings among whoever’s out there. To be honest, I’ve never been that good at intentionally gaining favor from others anyway.
To some degree it makes me feel mad that these systems exist in the first place and we feel that we have to do these things in order to get to where we think we want to be. It makes me feel frustrated that I feel a personal pressure to join the struggle to become some beaming voice somewhere in the void (the internet is the void. the world is the void). And it upsets me that these systems can cause more anxiety and depression from this constant comparison and social curating that we do.
I want to dive, dive, dive.
I want to connect with people, not just think of them as numbers.
I want the things that I produce and interact with to be authentic.
It may be a tall order, but I can hope.