Netflix’s Black Mirror is a show pegged as a sci-fi imagining of what the future might look like. Predicting patterns of human behaviour, it theorizes about technology’s impact on our lives and shows the possibility of horrors inflicted by artificial intelligence. It truly is one of the best shows to have happened to us. Sure, plenty of Black Mirror episodes are completely outlandish. Too insane to ever actually happen, but what about the ones that aren’t? What about the ones that feel nightmarishly close to reality in the future! So here’s a list of Black Mirror episodes that feel so much like the future that they scare us!
1. Nosedive (Season 3, Episode 1)
This one has to be one of the episodes most similar to our reality! Nosedive’s premise of a world in which daily interactions are rated on a social network is quite familiar to our present lives. Beyond apps like Instagram and Facebook, where a person’s popularity is seemingly related to their number of likes and friends, we’ve normalized rating in our society through services such as Uber. In fact, the Chinese government is even developing the Social Credit System which is a reputation system that will generate each citizen’s “Personal Credit Score”. A kind of social credit standing based on their behaviour. Isn’t that insane?
2. The Entire History of You (Season 1, Episode 3)
Memory is a tricky thing. It sometimes may be biased and often unreliable. The way one person remembers an event almost always differs from how someone else recalls that same event in their mind. But what if technology could fix that? What if, when you interrogated your boyfriend/girlfriend about who they’ve been texting late at night instead of relying on their playback of events, you could literally watch those interactions in real-time? That’s what The Entire History of You is all about. A chip implant that allows you to record your daily life and watch someone else’s life unfold. However, we feel sometimes, ignorance really is bliss.
3. Hated In The Nation (Season 3, Episode 6)
Black Mirror is the master of taking a fun concept and turning it into a literal nightmare. This is exactly what happens in Season 3’s Hated in the Nation. The episode centres on a pair of detectives trying to figure out who’s responsible for unleashing killer robotic bees on the population. Bizarre? You bet. But the actual problem, one that unfortunately does seem possible, is why these bees are unleashed. They’re not just targeting random citizens, instead, they’re directed to murder the most-hated people on social media. If your name pops up in the designated hashtag enough times, you’ll be their next victim. Can we see this happening in another 7-9 years? Totally!
4. Playtest (Season 3, Episode 2)
Virtual reality is all the rage in the gaming community and it’s beginning to impact other areas of our lives as well. But what if virtual reality could hurt you? What if your worst nightmares played on a loop? What if those nightmares had the ability to physically cause you harm? Playtest follows the story of a man who volunteers for a study, one that asks him to confront his darkest fears as if they were real. Ultimately, he loses track of what’s imagined and what’s not. So, the point of the episode is that we as humans are drifting towards a life that feels more and more like a videogame than anything else. This definitely hits home!
5. Hang The DJ (Season 4, Episode 4)
In a world where human interaction relies upon a technological interface, the idea of dating feels especially terrifying. And Hang The DJ takes the idea that algorithms can predict happiness to a whole new level. Amy and Frank are two young adults who’ve signed up to participate in the “System,” an environment guaranteed to help you find your soulmate based on carefully cultivated data and computed calculations. The catch? You may have to bed a bunch of frogs before the A.I. can match you with your prince! We all know dating is scary enough as it is. The idea of testing out dozens and dozens of potential matches just because a computer told you to, suffering in bad relationships for an amount of time determined by some all-knowing piece of tech, that just sounds exhausting. But this episode surely depicts a reality we can foresee!
6. Arkangel (Season 4, Episode 2)
Marie is a single mother who implants a monitoring device in her young daughter’s brain after she briefly goes missing. The implant allows Marie to track her daughter’s location, blur out upsetting language and imagery, and literally see the world through her child’s eyes. It proves useful for a time before severely limiting the girl’s interactions with her friends and her ability to assess dangerous situations. So Marie disables the device and chooses to trust her daughter instead of monitoring her every move through a tablet screen. Years later, as a teenager, Marie’s daughter exhibits some concerning (typical teenager) behaviour. So Marie reactivates the implant. Her daughter eventually discovers this and nearly beats her to death. What’s truly terrifying about this episode is the knowledge of how many parents, even in the present, would choose to inflict this kind of technology on their child just for the sake of their own peace of mind.
7. Shut up and Dance (Season 3, Episode 3)
Shut Up And Dance was disturbing on a whole new level. This episode took the already-frightening concept of blackmail over the internet/the dark web (two things that already exist in our modern world) and twisted it into something completely different than you would ever expect. The fact that the protagonist was a terrified, teenage boy who pees himself while attempting to rob a bank didn’t help either. Considering that, as a teenager, many of us may have even responded in the same way out of fear, making this episode horrifyingly realistic. The ending of this one will really shock you! And believe us when we say, you wouldn’t have seen that one coming. But it is! In the near future!
8. The Waldo Moment (Season 2, Episode 3)
Many have compared Waldo, a CGI cartoon bear who rises in politics thanks to his populist ideals, to President Donald Trump. And we think the comparison isn’t entirely untrue! Both go from being entertainers without political backgrounds, who grow in popularity. The only unrealistic aspect of this episode is that Waldo is not a real person, rather an animated character. But considering the types of candidates who’ve run for office around the world in recent years including reality TV stars, bodybuilders-turned-actors, and comedians — a Waldo-type real-life candidate doesn’t seem that far off.
9. Smithereens (Season 5, Episode 2)
Smithereens, a story about a grief-stricken rideshare driver who takes a passenger hostage while demanding to speak with the CEO of a large social media company. Everything in “Smithereens” is plausible, and in the case of the live drama unfolding on a social media platform as it happens in real-time, we’ve already experienced our fair share of this kind of coverage. So be prepared to witness this reality in the near future. Don’t say no one warned you!
Featured Image Source: Vox