The year is 3000. You wake up from your nap, walk over to the window, and look outside. What do you see?
We love to think about the future, with all of its unpredictability and possibility, but when predictions begin to take shape in our actual lives, dread quickly ensues.
After watching season one of the Netflix drama Black Mirror and reading Juliana’s article about Snapchat addiction, it is scary just how close our society is to dystopia. In the first episode of the series, entitled Nosedive, society has become obsessed with social media “ratings”. On this futuristic social media platform, people upload photos and videos to their accounts, and their followers rate their photos on a scale from zero to five. Holograms project the users’ score directly in front of them, and with a click on a cellphone, scores can be seen in real time. These ratings govern people’s lives. They determine how much people pay, who gets priority in plane seating, and most importantly what other people think of them. People with low scores are shunned. False relationships are built on this number. In order to achieve a higher score, people try to only associate with other high scorers. They plaster fake smiles to their faces and fabricate kindness so that they are more liked and receive higher ratings.
After reading Juliana’s story, it seems this terrifying future is fast approaching. Snapchat streaks, with no actual value other than a number on a screen, are beginning to govern aspects of users’ lives. The fake relationships depicted in Black Mirror are eerily reminiscent of the fake relationships described in Juliana’s story. To keep their Snapchat streaks alive, “friends” send each other photos without purpose other than to preserve their number.
The episode ends when the main character, Lacie, crumbles under the relentless pressure she puts on herself to raise her score. She finally decides that she no longer cares about her score and what others think about her, and she is freed from its burden.
It is undeniable that our future will continue to be shaped by social media and its growth in society. Black Mirror and Juliana’s article are reminders of the superficial nature of social media, of the pressure on youth to get people to like them, and that when predicting the future, it sucks to be right.