A couple days ago saw the return of British television series, Black Mirror. Created by Charlie Brooker, the standalone episodes from each series reflect how we are living now, and how we might be living in the not-so-distant future.
It is really a discussion of our love and addiction for technology and the growing side effects this may bring. The new series began with ‘Be Right Back’, set in a distorted reality with technological advances, but with characters and situations we could all relate to. Ash, played by Domhnall Gleeson, dies at the beginning of the episode leaving his distraught wife Martha (Hayley Atwell) behind.
However, with the use of intelligent software Martha is able to, in a way, bring Ash back to life. To begin with, she only speaks to him online in a chat room environment, where his responses are created by years of internet history using everything he has ever written online to talk to his wife. Not content with this, Martha takes it to the next level where she is able to to talk to him over the phone as if he were still alive, and finally, she orders a virtual model of her late husband in desperation to see him again.
The model, which comes to life in the bath, is a much younger version of the Ash we saw at the start of the episode. This is because the model is created by his online presence where the majority of photos show him looking young, fit and healthy. Eventually Martha realises that this isn’t her husband at all, it is just a fragment of the person he was. She tries to get angry at the ‘new’ Ash, and make him leave but in the end she has to live with the decision that she has created this person and can’t simply get rid of him.
Although I only watched a couple of episodes of the first series, I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Be Right Back’ as I think it is so unbelievably current to how we are living our lives. We are a generation obsessed with our phones, our laptops and our bloody Facebook accounts. Sometimes we actually stop living naturally due to the need to share every inch of our privacy with the world… “Ah what a gorgeous cake, WAIT, nobody eat! I need to Instagram it!”
I am definitely guilty of this and religiously check Facebook and Twitter daily, but is it healthy? The new model of Ash looking young and vibrant really struck a chord with me, we need to remember that our online selves are not really us at all, they are the person we want to be perceived as to everyone else. Do you write a status every time you’ve failed something or are feeling particularly crap? Do you keep all the tags on those horrible drunken photos you didn’t know were being taken? Of course you don’t, because this would damage the absolute image of perfection that you are trying to convince everyone (and maybe yourself) that your life is!
This is why we really shouldn’t compare ourselves to anyone else using their amazing holiday snaps or enviable LinkedIn profiles. Our online presence is not an extension of ourselves, but a tiny percentage and a lot of exaggeration. Don’t let social media take over your life! Have a break from time to time. When the next most-talked-about series appears on your television screens, dare you not to Tweet about it…