By Dan Clendenin

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Nosedive (2016)

“Nosedive” is a single episode in a British television series called “Black Mirror” that debuted in 2011, and was later made available on Netflix. “If technology is a drug,” explains the creator Charlie Brooker, “and it does feel like a drug — then what, precisely, are the side effects? This area — between delight and discomfort — is where Black Mirror is set. The ‘black mirror’ of the title is the one you’ll find on every wall, on every desk, in the palm of every hand: the cold, shiny screen of a TV, a monitor, a smartphone.” The fictional satires have drawn comparisons to The Twilight Zone, with their explorations of our “techno-paranoia.” To date there have been 13 episodes, each of which is about 45 to 90 minutes long. The episode “Nosedive” considers our obsession with self-validation through social media ratings. In “Nosedive” the characters utilize a single social media platform to rate every online and real life interaction on a five-star scale. In this techno-dystopia, everyone walks around with their user-generated score in front of their face, visible to all, which score defines everything about them — their worth to society, their employment possibilities, their attractiveness to others, their access to goods and service, and most of all their sense of self-worth. Since life in this world is an unending performance, characters shape their lives and identities in order to chase the holy grail of a 5-point rating, much like an Uber driver or Twitter user might do. That self-censoring, of course, leads to all sorts of horrible consequences for one’s self-image and authenticity. “Nosedive” considers what life would be like if we had a Yelp application that we used to rank everything about each other.

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