Charlie Brooker’s iconic masterpiece – Black Mirror – has been messing with people’s heads for almost a decade. While each (sometimes quite triggering) episode is often at least three steps ahead of us, and discloses its, raw, cruel truth, there’s always a final questioning regarding our disconnection from ourselves.
As we already live in a world where much of developed society has uploaded itself to cyberspace, we cannot dismiss the idea that the terms of the show cast us humans as main protagonists and antagonists at the same time. Though society’s setting isn’t the same as Black Mirror’s dystopic, gray aesthetic, that doesn’t mean that we aren’t living this show to a disturbing degree.
For every technological advance, there’s a price to pay, as well as a dream-come-true sub-text that can spiral into a nightmare, which we witness in every episode of this peculiar show. As it might all come down to a common conclusion – the one about technology displaying its darkest (possibly imaginable) side – the truth is, our highway to heaven or hell is determined by ourselves. It is not the dark side of technology. Technology has always remained neutral. It is the human factor that is problematic, and what we perceive as “dark” is nothing but our Frankenstein extension that we let scatter through cyberspace. Our deepest desires are triggered, and we are willingly being chewed up and spit out as desensitized beings. An Infamous and very early episode – “National Anthem” – depicted this twisted desire for disgust which we don’t look away from, but rather find ourselves entertained with, despite literally feeling sick to our stomachs. Bread and circuses – always have been, just in different shapes and forms. And we all observe it, as a pack. Our deep-rooted fear of being cast out and left to survive alone pushes us to tap into our cyborg-like selves on social media (“Nosedive”), and sell our core values out to imposed ones.
Digging deeper into the show, we come to the explicit “Black Museum” episode where we see how attempts to cheat death via technology lead to corruption, greed and human exploitation, and how those who fight back might end up on the opposite side of the spectrum. Whether you find this episode too much to handle or not, whether you celebrate the (positive?) outcome or not, the message is universal and kicks you hard in the stomach: As a society, we might be guided with “right reasons” into becoming our monsters without realizing it.
“… when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”