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Anti Socialism in Black Mirror

Although there were many things happening in Black Mirror, one of the themes that stood out the most was this societies limited communication skills.  In this possibly ‘future world’ where humans are literally the battery supply and where technology is present in almost every aspect of ones life from fake sun up to fake sun down, a person’s whole life evolves around the bike.  It was clear from the beginning that the people in Black Mirror are more engaged in the screen in front of them, then having a conversation with a REAL person (even though they have no problem interacting through their avatar).  For example, in the opening sequence, when Bing is in the elevator with all those other people, everyone seems to be in their own world, listening to their own music.  I mean until Bing started talking to Abi, I thought that he might actually be a mute.  The rudimentary social skills of the people in this movie are clearly seen as Bing’s bicycle neighbor continuously yells and rants at the poor lady custodian, who was only trying to do her job.

But I thought that the fact that filmmakers picked up on the ‘anti socialism’ in the Black Mirror population, is so relevant to today’s society.  I took a class earlier that argued that today’s people, both old and young, are part of what the teacher called ‘the ipod society.’  What my teacher meant by this was that we are so consumed with our selves when we around technology, that we block out everything around us, just like when we are wearing an ipod.  He was trying to point out that as we go through life in our little secluded bubble, we are creating more and more distance between ourselves and the rest of society.  And even if we are physically next to other people, like in a class or in a store, we are using our technology to distract us, rather then engaging in friendly conversations to make new and more human connections.  Whereas in the past, when we were without our laptops and cell phone, we were forced to talk to our neighbors to entertain us or to just sit quietly in our seats until class began.  Our teacher made his point by assigning us a treasure hunt assignment, where most of the questions could only be answered by calling around (or making more human connections).  When he collected our answers for the assignment, he asked us how it went, and as a class we collectively found that calling around was much harder for most of us to do, whereas the questions that could be answered through the internet were less strenuous.  After the students gave their remarks, our teacher told us that he gave us this assignment to get us out from behind our screens, as he wanted us to call around for the information because he felt that today’s youngsters don’t know how to make phone call to find info anymore.  Our teacher was also trying to get the point across about how unapproachable people can be with their ipods on or with their cell phones in their faces.  So as a result people are walking around or going through life with a type of ‘DO NOT DISTURB’ sign in front of them.

At first I didn’t think that this concept was true, but as I have noticed more and more people walking down the street looking at their iPhone, talking on their cell phones or listening to their ipods with a blank expression on their face, I came to realize how this analogy is actually becoming more and more true everyday.  I can’t tell you how many people have almost walked into me because they were busy texting and therefore walked right in front of me.  The other thing that I have noticed even more is having a meal or a conversation with a person who constantly has their phone in front of their face, which makes me feel like I’m having a conversation with the back of a phone.  My Dad and I once had dinner with my sister and her boyfriend, and my sister’s boyfriend told us at that dinner that he was going to go 1 whole week without his iphone.  Well I’ll tell you he couldn’t even make it through that one meal, it must have been 20 -30 minutes after he made that pledge where he decided he couldn’t last any longer without his much beloved iphone.  And throughout the time he was without his iphone, he looked really uncomfortable and it seemed like he didn’t know what to say because he was really quiet.  So even though technology has a lot of benefits like convenience, speed and so on, one has to wonder, what are the costs or effects of having such technology so readily at our hands.  Because really, I don’t want to live in a world like Black Mirror, where people mostly interact through their avatar.

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Anonymous and History

After learning about Anonymous in class, I can honestly say that I am a little frightened at the reach and capabilities of this group.  In many ways, Anonymous seems like today’s equivalent of a vigilante group, who are targeting the wrongdoings that they see in our world. As the government tries to put more and more restrictions on the internet, Anonymous embodies the idea of resistance, while trying to give the public access to as much information as possible, so that we can make our own decisions for ourselves (instead of what the government wants us to believe).  But the fact that there is no hierarchy, no names and no accountability for this group is extremely worrisome to me.  This group has a great amount of power within reach and the authority to choose which battles they feel are worth fighting.  But the weight of a battle can be very subjective, and what if mistakes happen along the way.  The results could be positive, worthwhile and helpful or also very negative, damaging and harmful.  In many ways, I can see how a lot of the power is in Anonymous’ corner, which is not necessarily a bad thing.  But I also feel that power or authority needs to be balanced and be checked, because power is so closely linked to greed and corruption (like dictators or like Gollum and the ring in the Lord of the Rings).

But the idea that Anonymous is today’s version of a vigilante group can be tied to our lecture about history repeating itself.  Though history does not exactly repeat itself, I personally feel that there are some parts of our history that are repetitive of past events.  If I had to assign a symbol to my idea of the past, it would be a combination of both the spiral and the fractal.  Our individual choices may take us in different and sometimes opposing directions, but there are also some times when we repeat decisions or mistakes that we made earlier.  Even the idea of Anonymous, can be seen as taking part in the spiral, fractal symbol of the past.  As Anonymous is the modern day resistance group who uses the computer and the internet as their tools of weapons, one can see that they are really not that different from and have many similarities with other resistance groups in the past.  For example, the American Revolutionary War was a resistance against the British, and the tools that American soldiers used were guns.  Also, the Civil Rights movements in the 1960’s was a form of resistance against Black racism and their tools were words and forms of protests like marches.  In both cases, it would seem like in the battle of good vs. evil, ‘Good’ won out.  But as always, defining who won a battle is usually a matter of perspective.  In the end, we will have to see who will win the next battle of our generation, that of Anonymous or the Bureaucracy.

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