I’ve just watched the first episode of series three of Black Mirror. It’s set in a world where we rate people from 1 to 5 stars using our mobile phones. These ratings that are given after ‘meaningful encounters’ are then added up to create your own personal rating. People with a plus 4 rating get better deals on loans, car rentals, house opportunities. It is such that everyone in society is far more concerned about their personal rating than being honest and speaking their truths, having surrendered to technology and no longer living authentic lives. As I watched I became very uncomfortable (which, of course, is the point of the series – each episode holds up a Black Mirror so we can see our reflection, and sometimes, it’s not pleasant).
Charlie Brooker is a very clever writer. He has obviously looked at how we are currently living our lives and has taken it further, but not too much further. I have had conversations with people who are upset with the lack of likes their posts receive on Facebook, as if that is an accurate reflection on what their friends think of them. And those friends? Most of whom we barely know and certainly have never stepped foot in our homes. The drive to become famous on social media for some is overwhelming, and of course it’s very possible. If someone posts enough they can become very well known. It feeds the ego nicely, but in the scheme of life it’s meaningless. The quote, May your life be as wonderful as your Instagram feed suggests isn’t far from the truth. It’s all very unreal.
And as I write this my fellow Viking has pointed me to an app called Peeple that seems to be heading in the very direction of the Black Mirror episode.
Look. I love my iPhone as much as any geek, but this is just too much. I hope the app fails. I hope it’s an unmitigated flop. I hope that, as this rather strange trend for internet fame and hunger for approval in the shape of clicking a tiny little thumbs up box continues, we find ourselves realising that nothing will or should ever replace going round and meeting our friends face to face. Confiding the truths of our lives, trusting that this friendship is meaningful, and that we will never be judged or rated by some crazy, soul-destroying app.
Give someone a hug, or if that makes you uncomfortable, make them a cuppa. Stop reading this post, get off Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, and look into the eyes of a human being.
I went to a pub in Prague a couple of years ago and saw the sign I placed as the featured image of this post.
I couldn’t have put it better myself.