This week, I watched “Nosedive” which is the first episode of the third series of Black Mirror. This episode is set in a world where people rate each other from one to five stars, and all of these ratings can impact their socioeconomic status. The central character, Lacie, is a young woman who is really obsessed with her ratings. She leverages the prospect of elevating her ratings to move into a more luxurious residence. This opportunity happens after her popular childhood friend chooses Lacie to be her maid of honor. Her unhealthy obsession with the rating system leads her to make several mistakes on her journey to the wedding that end up depleting her ratings. After making a scene at the wedding, she is taken to prison, and the technology that supports the rating system is taken out of her. In the end, she feels free.
After watching this episode, I was reminded of so many technologies we have that allow us to rate our interactions with other people. The first thing I thought of was Uber—after we finish our ride, we are allowed to rate our driver, and that affects the drivers’ future. Another technology I thought of was Instagram. Some people are so successful on Instagram that they are able to launch a lucrative career as an influencer. In that scenario, influencers’ socioeconomic status is directly affected by how many likes they get.
But even outside of technology, there are so many rating systems that affect our everyday lives. Take our credit scores, for example. Credit scores affect what houses and cars we can buy, the loans we take out to send our kids to college, and so many other factors. Even before technology, we were all obsessed with rating systems and with popularity in general. This episode just did a really amazing job of highlighting that obsession in a dramatized manner. Furthermore, it showed that once we let go of these societal rankings, we can truly be “free.”