We’re basically already here.
Disclaimer: I love reading TV reviews, but I’ve never written one. Here’s my first attempt. Let me know what you think in the comments! Spoilers below.
If you regularly use Instagram, the dystopian and satirical Black Mirror episode “Nosedive” (season 3, episode 1) probably hit very close to home and terrified you more than any horror movie (though let’s be honest, not many horror movies are scary these days). If you haven’t watched the episode stop reading right now, turn on Netflix, then resume reading this post.
It helps that the episode’s protagonist, Lacie, played by the wonderful Bryce Dallas Howard, is extremely relatable. Clad in pastels, a feigned grin she’s practiced for hours, and a perfectly coiffed ponytail, Lacie spends her days on an Instagram-meets-Tinder app trying to increase her social rank, which has plateaued at a 4.2. It makes sense given she lives in a world where social currency determines everything from housing to jobs to friendships. The hustle is eerily similar to how we bloggers try to increase our Instagram following (poor Lacie can’t resort to loop giveaways, though). After she falls in love with an apartment in dreamy, Insta-worthy Pelican Cove which offers a 20% discount on rent to influencers with a 4.5, she seeks professional advice on how to improve her rank. The advice is familiar to every blogger – be yourself and interact with premium users (i.e.: people with over 100k followers in today’s lingo). It works and she lands the coveted role of maid-of-honor for her cool friend’s wedding, which is sure to boost her rank.
The scoring app has many parallels to Instagram. On the surface they both share neatly curated feeds, disdain for profanity, and Pinterest perfect photos. In practice, not only is it the primary barometer for measuring one’s influence, but it’s also a mechanism by which to automate trust on a large scale (sorry, 1.4 truck driver lady). How many times have you used Instagram to check whether a brand or person is credible, trustworthy, or even worth getting to know? I know I’m guilty of it.
Thankfully, we don’t live in quite the same dystopian universe as Lacie’s where people are rated based on every minute interaction (go away, Peeple app). Still, there are plenty of other ways we get rated – from Uber to Yelp to Ebay. Even likes on Instagram are a form of rating. Like Lacie, I’ll get a mini panic attack if my photo doesn’t receive likes within three seconds of posting, and if I lose followers, all hell breaks lose and I will drop an f bomb or two. The addiction to personal validation is frightening, but as Lacie tells the truck driver that’s just how the world works now. We’ve become so accustomed to it that we’re oblivious to how even our most mundane interactions and experiences are so often quantified and reduced to likes or ratings regardless of whether we get personal enjoyment out of it. Drinking a matcha latte you feel meh about? Instagram it. Going to your once-a-month barre class? Instagram that too #fitspo. And if you happen to be in the same vicinity as famous influencers, say fashion week, make sure to Instagram that too for extra likes.
It’s this very quantification of people that makes the most painful part of the episode (and there are many) when Naomi coldly tells Lacie not to attend the wedding anymore based on her 2.7 rank. If you’ve ever been unfollowed by someone who suddenly had three times more followers than you, you know the struggle. Of course, the second most painful scene is when Lacie drunkenly crashes Naomi’s wedding, although we can forgive her for it by the end when she no longer cares about her social rank and dwindles below 1 point #personalgrowth. In a time when fashion blogging is highly focused on followers, traffic, and engagement, I frequently find myself wanting to pull a Lacie and say “fuck it.”
The uncanny parallels with reality make “Nosedive” one of my favorite episodes of Black Mirror joining the ranks of “The Entire History of You” and “White Christmas.” What did you think of the episode? Brb, I’m going to binge-watch the rest of season 3.