Warning: Spoilers ahead for Black Mirror Season 3 Episode 1, "Nosedive."
After two seasons which almost acted as a warning to British audiences about the dangerous potential of technology, Season 3 of Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror has finally dropped on Netflix. With the added cash injection this time around, Brooker doubled down and produced six episodes, with an even split between episodes set in America and the UK, and some major star power.
Bryce Dallas Howard stars as the main character, Lacie Pound, in Episode 1 "Nosedive"; an unsettling look into a pastel-colored world in which every move a person makes is ranked by those they interact with.
Everything about Lacie's life is carefully choreographed to ensure she receives the best possible rankings from friends and strangers alike. She cheerfully chortles at jokes that aren't funny, accepts cookies she won't eat and engages in person-specific small talk all in the hopes that immediately afterwards she'll receive a five star rating.
The rankings are inescapable, thanks to a contact lens which reveals a person's name and ranking simply by looking at them. Not to mention that they influence all aspects of life, with high rankings allowing you to have access to better housing or vehicles, and low rankings potentially making it impossible to gain entry to your workplace, or to even get other people to interact with you.
- Days Of Future Past: 6 Times 'Black Mirror' Predicted The Future We Live In
- 7 Years Bad Luck - The 5 Darkest Moments From Black Mirror!
- Is 'Black Mirror' A True Story? 5 Moments Which Could Become A Reality
But as crazy as the world Lacie lives in might seem, like all Black Mirror episodes, it's actually a terrifyingly minuscule jump from the world we live in today. Prepare to feel unsettled as you scroll through all of your favorite apps, and see exactly how they fit into Lacie's world of rankings. It's definitely something that makes you sit back and think: is "Nosedive" a scary indication of where we're headed, or would we be able to heed the warning signs before things got that extreme?
Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
With 3,523,000,000 active monthly users Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter dominate as the four most popular social media sites in the world. Sharing pictures, videos, thoughts, events and weaving an intricate web of human connections, it's hard for anyone to resist creating at least one account on these platforms.
It's easy to see the similarities of the four sites in the technology of Lacie's world, with people carefully setting up picture perfect scenarios to put forth to their followers. And much like that little boost you get when the likes on your Instagram posts hit 11, or your crush 'loves' your new profile picture, Lacie is clearly reinvigorated every time she sees she's been rated.
There idea of highly ranked "prime influencers" being heavily favored by companies such as the airport, car rental place and real estate business also has spooky similarities to our world. This is pretty much exactly the tactic companies use for people with a large social media following (a prime example being the Kardashian/Jenner sisters), plying them with free products or services in return for a post online that will reach thousands and attract others to what they're selling. It's eerie to see the same tactic used with the general public, basically creating a 'meritocracy', where the only talent that matters is ability to bullshit on social media.
Uber basically fits straight into Lacie's world without many changes, with the car ordering process and reviewing remaining basically unchanged. The only major change is that Uber doesn't allow customers to access their rankings instantly.
It was very unsettling to see something so familiar placed into this slightly removed world of rankings, and did sort of put into perspective how close to Lacie's world we already are.
One of the subplots in "Nosedive" concerned Lacie's workmate, Chester. After breaking up with his partner, Chester's ranking dipped dramatically, and with his workmates siding with his partner, it was hard for him to boost it back up again. Then after sliding below a 2.5 ranking, Chester found that the front door to work wouldn't open from him, and even Lacie — who has earlier given him a 5 star ranking out of pity — wouldn't risk giving him any stars.
The use of rankings in the workplace definitely whiffs of professional networking site LinkedIn, which connects users with colleagues and others in their industry to build a web of professional contacts. If used to its full potential, LinkedIn can provide users with myriad opportunities, allowing them to further their career. However, "Nosedive" also explored the downside of being so connected with colleagues, allowing them to have a say in whether or not they were even able to enter their own workplace.
More on Black Mirror Season 3:
- Edgar Allan Poe 2.0: Black Mirror's 'Playtest' Reinvents The Haunted House Genre
- 'Black Mirror' Episode 3 Depicts A World That Is Already Here
Much like Uber, there was a very TripAdvisor-y feel to the interactions Lacie has with workers in the service industry. While she didn't exactly rate the business like users of TripAdvisor do, she did rate the staff. And, much like businesses who offer special deals or added extras for customers they know will give favorable ratings on TripAdvisor, Lacie's server JJ gave her a free cookie, almost certainly knowing that it'd earn him a 5 star rating.
Tinder (+ others)
The idea of yay-ing or nay-ing someone based on a split second was clearly seen in "Nosedive," and while it was not so much in the romantic sense, it was certainly pretty comparable to dating apps such as Tinder.
After several people observed Lacie rage at the airport staff member, or even after she accidentally bumped into a woman causing her to spill a drink on her shirt, they instantly gave her a one star ranking. While the people were just ranking Lacie based on that one interaction, it was still very interesting that none of them hesitated to rank her poorly, not bothering to consider that perhaps in extenuating circumstances — such as a flight being cancelled — her reaction, while strong, was probably not indicative of her whole personality.
Watch all three seasons of Black Mirror on Netflix now.