It’s unsurprising that technology constantly surprises us. It seems like a new scientific discovery is made every week and a new device is invented every day. You probably never imagined being able to tell your smartphone what you want it to do. And if you’re older, you probably never even imagined smartphones. But while our newly interconnected and technological world is wonderful, it comes with many sobering implications. Our society is incredibly dependent on the internet, and our personal lives are spread across it, leaving many opportunities for abuse. Mass surveillance is now possible on an incredible scale, and it’s getting worse. However, it is just the first of many issues caused by technology that we must face together. Black Mirror is a show that addresses these issues, showing us how badly technology can hurt us if we’re not careful. And unfortunately, Black Mirror is also a warning that we must heed.
Black Mirror addresses the dangers of a wide range of technologies on a wide range of timelines. The first episode, which focuses on social media, seems to take place only a few years from now. Other episodes take place maybe a hundred years or more from now, featuring societies that have been completely shaped by some futuristic innovation. It’s hard to tell which is more frightening. The technologies in Black Mirror range from the internet we know today, to virtual reality, to cybernetic enhancements, and even to self-replicating robotic bees. Each episode features some sort of twist, and all but one end on a very dark note. The warnings are very clear, and the dangers Black Mirror portrays feel very real. You won’t be able to binge-watch this show. You’ll either be left with an existential crisis, or an irrational (or maybe not) fear of your smartphone.
The great thing about Black Mirror is that it backs up its message with great writing and production quality. The plot is always engaging from the start and very interesting, with endings that are often surprising or hard to swallow. Characters in Black Mirror feel like real people rather than clichés, and their actions make sense. There’s always a touch of humor too, which offsets the sometimes dark and disturbing, but well-built realities that Black Mirror creates. Black Mirror episodes are of the same production quality as a good movie; the CGI and camerawork is great. The episodes are as entertaining as they are potentially prophetic and often feel like slightly shorter than usual movies.
Black Mirror is a show that applies to all of us. We could one day be living in any of the futures that the show portrays, which is why anyone concerned about their future should give it a try. Maybe if more people watch the show, we can be more thoughtful about what innovations should exist, which shouldn’t, and under what terms. Our future with technology is surely a scary one, but maybe it doesn’t have to be.