The Real Evil of Technology
How we antagonize technology as seen in Black Mirror
By Brenda Odria
As I sit here binge watching another episode of Black Mirror on Netflix I couldn’t help but wonder-how much self control does it take for me to close my laptop and do something that would make me feel mildly productive? As my friend said her laptop being fixed at apple for 3-5 days was a secret blessing because she had gotten “so much more done.”
With the popularization of series’ like Black Mirror, the public has become increasingly aware and paranoid over the future of technology and how it impacts our lives. The premier of Season three and four sparked a discussion among the viewers, all of which were concerned and terrified of what occurred in the episodes. The response from the public only reveals the insecurities within the population, and antagonizes the evolution of technology for the benefit of our self denial. The question arises, what is the real evil behind technology? This self denial exists in us as we refuse to acknowledge our incessant need to have our phones with us at all times, and the panic that strikes everyone of us when we realize we don’t have it.
In interviews the writers of the show, Charlie Brooker, Jesse Armstrong and Will Bridges speak about the weight placed behind technology in the series but how it isn’t necessarily technology itself that is harmful but it’s how people choose to use it. Thus, displacing the blame from evolving technology to us humans. This point of view is hard to swallow for us, so instead numerous youth are now opting for reverting back to flip phones over iPhones or Androids, in an attempt to “disconnect” from social media and any technological distractions. This further incriminates technology as we decrease the need from practicing self control by taking away the temptation of social media and netflix. It’s easy for us to blame technology for our decreasing attention span.
We all come across this thought, how much more productive would we be if we didn’t have a phone? Laptop? Netflix?
We all know it would probably be a lot better, this incrimination of technology has also instilled fear in us for what’s to come and Black Mirror portrays this in several episodes. The most concrete illustration of the real evil behind new technology is Black Mirror’s second episode of the new season, “Arkangel.” The story revolves around the idea of the horror of helicopter parenting; where they are implanting their children with a tracker. This tracker can also be used to completely block “harmful content” from them. This deals with the concept of censorship, how does the parent decide what is harmful to their child without censoring their life experience?
*This paragraph contains spoiler * In an interview Brooker again explains the relatability behind the construction of this episode, where parents would watch and go “yeah, thats me.” In which again technology is something attractive that is initially intended for the benefit of the consumer, except because this is Black Mirror it gets very dark, very quickly. The child begins to exhibit troubling behavior because of this censorship causing the mother to stop using it, years later however with the rediscovery of the implant the technology causes the estrangement between the two and an end to their relationship. It would be easier to blame the technology for creating a rift between the two, and allowing the supposed benefits to turn into hindrances.
Black Mirror allows the audience to think about all these questions that surround technology, it’s easier to antagonize new technology especially seeing the dark outcomes that usually accompany the development of technology in a Black Mirror episode. It is important instead to consider what Brooker is attempting to generate with the show, a discussion about the real evils behind technology. Whether it is ourselves or the overproduction for profitability. Black Mirror is only a window into all the fear and insecurity that technology may or may not have stressed within us yet the severity of the integration of technology in our society is almost impossible to ignore, with social media and other aspects of technology that have been tackled in other episodes such as “Nosedive” of season three. It’s comforting to think these futures are far off, it’s too alarming to think otherwise. It is probably the better option to remain in the present space of denial or acceptance that whatever level we engage with technology on, the danger is only present if we allow it to be.