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Black Mirror, a Netflix series, is based upon the premise that most of us want to be liked, and as a result, in this disconnected world, further need this fix to survive.
Let’s talk of Netflix. Of Black Mirror. As one of the most raved about shows on the platform, Black Mirror often paints a grounded picture of the immediate future.
I recall a particular episode, ‘Nosedive’ where the lead Lacie gives ratings to people as per their behaviour and appearance. She is in turn rated by others as the episode progresses. Negatively, in this instance. I remember feeling the relevance of this concept while watching the episode. I recall thinking aloud – whether being liked is such a big thing? And is it going to become the basis of our social existence in the years to come?
To most people, probably what I am talking about can sound like debating something which is just matter of fact. We all like to be liked. We want to liked. And these days, we need to be liked. Where we constantly check the likes we get on social platforms, the views our stories get, the praises that are showered on us.
Of course it feels good to be recognized and appreciated, but how much does this recognition really matter? Do we think whether this social buzz actually leads us somewhere? Does being liked by a set of handles change our realities?
I have argued in this vein, needlessly, for a very long time. The more I see of the world, the more I feel that the majoritarian view is the way to be. One has to be liked. It is a dire necessity. And yet, there might be some vagabonds like me, who do not care so much. We do what we do, because it feels right to do it. We love whom or what we love, because for us these conventions have never been definitive. You must have read it somewhere (Gone with the Wind), “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Period.
I talk for that lost cause. I talk in favor of those who dare to defy. Do I make it sound like rebellion? Of course it isn’t so. Maybe, in the near future, our existence won’t be so finely interwoven with social media ratings, as shown by ‘Nosedive’. Linking the very fabric of the society, the utilities, the administration, the schemes and the subscriptions seem far fetched at this point. But what if? Are we saying that slowly yet gradually the society is rejecting the recluse?
If you ask a recluse, she will say, how much does it matter now?
Do my filtered, scraped pictures prove my beauty?
Does a static picture tell you what I am thinking or feeling?
Does it tell you how desirable I am?
What of those days that I am not desirable, not even to myself?
What does a cohort of bots know about me? I know that my features won’t stay the same for long. I will age, I will wrinkle, I will shrivel but my conscious will survive. Unless it gets lost in the endless loop of begging for acceptance.
In a utopian world, my ideas might stick. And so I have been told. Possibly. And yet even the most dedicated recluse has to bow down to the demands of niceties. If she is not, she might offend the sunshine friends, her perfect boyfriend, her holier than thou husband and even her picky children. And so what does the recluse do? She struggles to please. To be liked. Because in the thick of things, his feelings matter. And on and on it goes.
But surely, you must realize that this has to stop? Surely, you and I both, by now recognize the thin line between real and virtual? Surely, we know what propagating hatred over the internet can lead to? In a world where videos of mass slaughter are live streamed, re-tweeted and endlessly liked and shared, we both know the true value of a like. Therefore, what if I am liked or disliked?
So before you paint the canvas red with your high and dry ideals of right and wrong, please ask yourself, does it really matter? Does my judgement really matter? Does my scrutiny add anything to my credit? Why am I being a watchdog to someone else’s choices? And most importantly, why does approval from an automated algorithm or a collection of people aggregated by an algorithm, make my sun shine brighter that day?
Image source: YouTube
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Manojita loves to write alongside her regular 9-5. Flair for language, poetry, art etc
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