Black Mirror (2016)

Score: 4/5

Black Mirror is a series intended to be prophetic. Prophetic in the sense of anticipating what the future could look like and serve as a jarring warning. It is a series, that conveys the darkness humanity could bring on itself, in its continued interaction with ever-advancing technology. The name is, itself is a huge tell.

Episodes

Unlike most series, episodes aren’t related. The overarching theme of the series is the thread running through all of them.  You don’t have to watch an earlier one to make sense of one; they are standalone. This is a format not many series use.

For people who easily tire of a story that seems to drag on for months or even years, this is great. One of the great things about this is that if creators fail one episode it is easier to recover on the next. There is no failed plot or part of the storyline to try and correct over a longer period.

Themes

Each episode focuses on our (possible) dark or negative interaction and use of technology both in the present but also future. I’ve watched all seasons to present (i.e. up to Season 3 – 2016). While it attempts to curate depressing and self-deprecating side effects of technology in everyday life in the future, it often highlights what is already a reality.

The series attempt to highlight the shadows of the Internet to social media and artificial intelligence and robotics. It can be easy to get lost on the dark side of tech and interaction with it that you lose sight of how then envision technological advancement. Electric cars, life in robots that can serve as nurses, child minders and even sex partners, some of this can be scary. I guess that will always be the nature of the unknown-frightening.

This, however, doesn’t stop the creators from peering into what could be both near and distant futures of tech and society. Ah, society …

Impact

One of the obvious messages is that there isn’t a technological advancement that doesn’t impact us, humans. Both as individuals and society. Technology changes how we interact. It forces us to wrestle with our ethics and morals; forcing us to examine what we value most. Tech will always cause us to wrestle with ethical issues we’ve never had to.

You cannot watch Black Mirror without feeling sad. If not during an episode, but at the end of it. Some of the issues, like how we use social media can get in the way of those we (should) value most, are obvious. Some are subtle.

Regardless of how obvious the theme is unpacked, you will ask yourselves questions. After all, that is one of the reasons we use mirrors. The most basic question that causes us to look at the mirror is, “How do I look?” We want to answer that question because we want to know if we’re happy with ourselves. When we’re happy with that we might go to the next level of that question, “How will I look to others?”

Whether you go to a mirror intentionally or walks past one by accident, you will evaluate yourself. Even for a fleeting moment. Black Mirror is a mirror and can have that effect on us.

Creator, Charlie Brooker Explains Black Mirror

Mission

I think the series accomplishes its mission. Besides being dark-sad the mirror is held up and the reflections vivid. Perhaps that is one of the reasons it is somewhat scary–it is vivid. As intimated it is undeniable that the creators also try to anticipate tech advancements.

In case it is still unclear, I highly recommend the series. I’ve been watching it on Netflix.

Have you, or are you watching Black Mirror? Your thoughts? What are some of your fears on thoughts on how tech is advancing and how it’s impacting our lives?