Within the last few months I've been trying to develop my social media habits and increase my following for both my personal profile and professional photography profile. Though it serves a purpose, an attempt to show competence in gaining a following and also creating and publishing content that keeps that following, it is also extremely draining. Lately, I found myself thinking of an episode of Black Mirror called "Nosedive," when I start to feel socially drained and emotionally wound up.
Some context: Black Mirror is dark and twisted Netflix series created by Charlie Brooker set in a not so distant future of technological advances that work their way into our eyes, our brains, our homes, our entire lives. The show follows different negative encounters with this advanced tech and exposes the dark sides of human nature. Hence, the anecdote of looking at yourself through the reflection of your technology or rather: a black mirror. The episodes are seemingly unrelated but exist in the same technologically advanced universe with similar contraptions and software as well as similar social media. Each situation is equal parts horror, equal parts over dramatization, and equal parts not so dramatic that it's completely likely to happen to us in real life.
Nosedive: This episode follows a woman through her daily routines in a world where something similar to a combination of 'people' Yelp and Instagram influences your social standing. You get rated via stars by others for every single interaction you have. Purchase coffee and it's made well? 5 stars. No tip? 2 stars. Rude behavior? 1 star. Your overall average rating can change at the drop of a hat. One wrong word, mean look, bad tip and suddenly you find yourself a social outcast.
These ratings effect how long of a line you wait in, what kind of transportation and quality of transportation is available to you as well as how nice your living establishment is.
Lacey, the main character, lives her life based on this rating and can't separate her self-value from her rating. She is not the only one who lives this way and finds herself in the same trap of fear and fake portrayal in order to thrive. By the end of it, she ends up losing her mind, her stars, her rating and her social media chains.
I found myself becoming increasingly unhappy with others for not liking or commenting on certain things. I found myself posting in desperation for attention and becoming frequently irritable with people close to me for not validating me virtually and liking all of my posts or commenting on them either. I was left feeling depressed, annoyed, unhappy and prone to pick up old bad habits just to make myself feel better.
To scare myself back from the world of likes and follows on Instagram I re-watched this episode. It was exactly the scary cup of tea I needed to remind myself that I don't need to base my happiness off of the virtual acceptance of others. Though seemingly an obvious thought, and though I have a completely career based reason for focusing on my social media, before I knew it I felt just as lost as Lacey.
If you like to watch things that make you a little bit uncomfortable but also make you think, check out Black Mirror. It might just have you turning off your TV, shutting down your laptop, and switching off your cell phone to go outside and enjoy reality while it's still here.
Don't forget that when you see others post on social media they are portraying a certain part of them they want you to see. You must go out and create the memories you want to publish on your social media accounts. Make sure that you are actually enjoying your time creating these memories for you and not for your followers.
It's easy to get lost and nosedive. I'm here to remind you to take a break and have a breath of fresh air.