Black Mirror returns with a third season on Netflix, and I thought the first episode was particularly interesting from a Steemit perspective.
Warning: This review contains spoilers for Black Mirror's Nosedive episode. Don't read if you are bothered by this. Don't spoil other episodes in comments, please. If you haven't seen Black Mirror yet, go watch it!
image source: Netflix
Nosedive introduces us to a world where an unnamed social network (blockchain based, I bet) rules everyone's lives. People live for their social reputation, fishing for
upvotes ratings on everything they post on the social network and also on every social interaction have with strangers, friends or coworkers. Augmented reality through eye implants lets you see everyone else's reputation live - and judge their worth from it.
This reputation is measured on a scale from zero to five. "Upper Fours", those with an almost perfect rating, are society's elite - they get all the perks, everyone looks up to them and try to impress to get upvoted back. That's because, sure enough, an upvote from them has a much higher effect on your reputation than one from someone of average stake. Although it's not explicitly mentioned in the episode, I'm sure society calls them whales.
Lacie is someone with a reputation of around 4.2, a
Dolphin "lower four", someone who has a fairly good reputation, but not yet part of the influential elite. She works hard on her social postings, trying to get that elusive whale upvote that will drive her reputation up. Her target, in order to move to an exclusive upper-class condominium, is 4.5.
She hires a social media expert that tells her that according to the pace she's been powering up her reputation, it will take 18 months for her to reach her goal. The only way to get where faster is to get surrounded by whales and get them to like her.
No worries! Her childhood friend, Naomie, is now a whale, but they have grown apart over the years. Through some manipulation they reconnect, and she gets invited to be a maid of honor on her wedding. All the whales are going to be there! She'll get all the reputation she needs.
Unfortunately, her flight is canceled, and she causes a commotion in the airport for that. Airport security flags her, dropping her reputation a whole point, to lower threes. All flags will be worth double while that's in effect.
Her lower reputation causes nothing but trouble. All the privileges she had for being a dolphin are lost, and no one is nice to her. People ignore her or are plain hostile. She keeps getting flagged while her reputation takes a nosedive.
Due to necessity she becomes friends to someone with a fairly low reputation and is shocked to learn that person used to be a whale that got fed up with the whole social charade, decided to speak her mind, got flagged to death, and now is living a happy, social-less life.
Lacie get's uninvited to Naomie's wedding - someone with such a low reputation can't be seen there anymore. Naomie tells her it was just a social plot anyway - showing friendship with a Dolphin would make her more popular with her friend whales.
The wedding is crashed by a now almost reputation-less Lacie, which exposes her phony friend but gets flagged to the ground anyway.
Security takes her away. She's now muted - her social privileges taken away. And now she can stop faking and finally speak her mind without fear of reputation damage.
OK, I mixed and matched analogies there, and stretched them a bit to fit the story. But it was quite fun seeing how social validation taken to an extreme can change society, especially when there are financial incentives behind it, even if indirectly in this case.
The augmented-reality implant aspect was done on Black Mirror before, but it's still fun to see it. Rating social interactions is also so close to reality that is almost scary to think about it.
And finally, the power that people with great social influence can have was fantasticaly done. This one couldn't possibly be true, could it? :-)
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