The abyss that is Black Mirror

Imagine a world where you rate people you meet on the street with five stars or less depending on your encounter. A world where a simple hashtag can judge evil people to death. A world where you can literally block people and won’t be bothered anymore as you no longer can hear nor see them.

Sounds like Science fiction but Black Mirror, a British-American TV series tackling the dark side of technology, paints a picture of a grim world that is similar to real life. It is fascinating and scary at the same time.

There’s a story about implants that can record everything a person sees, an individual recreated from his social media profile, a woman being hunted down with people just watching and taking a video on their mobile phones.

The narrative, the acting, and the production, I would rate as impressive. And I like how it’s also some kind of a social commentary on how the black mirror, the very thing you’re reading this from, pervasive as it is in our lives can lead to dystopia. Guess what, it’s not a distant future we’re talking about. It is here. Watch a few episodes and you’ll agree with me.

It made me wonder about people putting so much effort on their well-curated but fake social media profile. About online bashing; those easily condemning, putting judgement, and even cursing to death people they barely know. About our obsession over talents shows. About manipulating reality. About poetic justice. About the loss of privacy.

We’re doomed! Black Mirror made sure of that. It’s entertaining, nonetheless. And it may help us re-evaluate how we use technology and maybe, somehow, change our destined future.

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Part of the Horde

My old phone died. I’m not really techy and I have no idea what model it is so let’s just call it a really old phone. I was tempted to buy the same model but everyone was saying it’s about time to buy a smartphone. So I did. I felt sad about it because I can no longer boast how not having a smartphone is perfectly fine. I’m now part of the zombie crowd (Thanks, Steve Cutts for the very accurate illustration). I have to admit though, with this new phone, I like how convenient it is to easily book a ride although I still pretty much prefer riding the taxi so I could support these taxi drivers, who are, to be fair, are not all evil.

“Is there wifi?” That’s the question most people would be asking. The common question I got asked when I spent a week at Makiling, which is a lovely place by the way; but since we were up in the mountains, the signal was very weak, to the dismay of everyone.

We’re so accustomed to being connected or online all the time. I still can’t understand how every moment, one has to constantly look at the hypnotic screen – while riding the jeepney, inside the elevator, in between conversations, heck, even in the toilet!

“The things you own end up owning you,” said Tyler Durden of Fight Club. And it’s an apt statement to these phones controlling our lives.

It facilitates communication, yes. But with that comes the ease of spread of fake news, more incidences of cyberbullying, and promotion of unrealistic self-image. Add to that the strain to human interactions.

We sure have a way of corrupting technology. It’s inevitable, I suppose. Maybe it’s just me being sentimental of the good old days. Or simply me growing old. Eek!

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#2030 NOW, rallying the good in all of us

I feel like I’m a technology averse person. Up until now, I don’t have a smartphone and that makes me an embarrassment to millennials. I don’t have Twitter and Instagram accounts, just Facebook. I’m not even taking advantage of this for the fear of oversharing or being attacked. Social media is now being used to spread anger and hatred. Plus, it saddens me how technology disconnects people personally. Thankfully, I was able to attend Innovation + Social Good, a Rappler event which highlighted for me a positive side of technology.

Social media can change lives. Rupert Ambil of Move.PH cited Daniel Cabrera’s story as an example. How a photo of him, a homeless boy who used the light from a McDonald’s restaurant to study, became viral and gathered support for his studies.

With technology, people can find and be part of a community as mentioned by the Founder of Thinking Machines, Stephanie Sy.

Disaster preparedness and response improved through innovations such as Agos and Project NOAH which facilitate the ease of information dissemination especially when disasters strike.

Also with technology and innovation, people are more empowered to make better decisions. These among others bring about positive impact and change, and help solve complex problems of the society.

Aside from inspiring talks, Innovation + Social Good also gathered different groups and organizations doing their part to contribute to sustainable development goals. In a world shrouded in negativity, there’s still hope after all. For a change, it’s nice to focus not on problems but on solutions – the social good that we are capable of doing, demonstrating the good that we all possess.

Truly, technology presents endless possibilities paired with scary challenges. But since the future is now, what we can do is to adapt and to use this tool not to destroy the world but make it a better one.