At their core, scary movies follow a similar plotline. They often start in a quaint town, with a seemingly innocent protagonist that is forced to move to some sort of abandoned mansion or cabin in the woods. Usually, their family is down on money and their parents often say key phrases, like “this will be good for us, a new start.”
Then enters the villain. A demon or murderer or demonic murderer comes to terrorize the protagonist in sneaky ways that no one believes until it is too late. Finally, the protagonist figures out a way to banish the villain back to the fiery pits of hell from which it came, until inevitably there is a scene revealing that the villain is still very much alive and ready for about eight more sequels.
I realize how similar every movie in this genre is, yet I continue to watch at least one scary movie a week. I have become desensitized to the classic notion of “fear” that arises from ghosts, exorcisms and gruesome or ridiculous murders simply because I can easily detach myself from that false reality. Black Mirror is a different story.
One of Netflix’s most popular shows, Black Mirror is a series about society and how technology is controlling the modern world. Each episode gives a different scenario in which humans are swayed and manipulated by the many new and exciting gadgets that the technological world can offer. And it is downright terrifying.
As opposed to movie’s like IT about clown’s that feed off fear, which obviously does not exist, Black Mirror is often about a piece of technology that is omnipresent in everyday life or could be within the next decade. Typically, the beginning of the episode introduces a new piece of digital machinery or automated reality that is supposed to be useful for mankind. Throughout the episode, it is not the technology that turns on the human, it is the human that is so easily changed by the technology. Rather than portraying evil robots trying to rebel against mankind, the show just lets people ruin their lives all by themselves. My fear of this show stems from how often I can see this happening daily.
People are constantly talking about how iPhones and computers are taking over the world, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Humans are using technology to communicate with others on a global level, cure diseases and fix disabilities, but they are also abusing technology in ways that inhibit social development, promote addiction and shorten attention spans.
It is not realistic to want to decimate technology when it is evolving at such an exponential rate but it is reasonable to adapt along with it. People need to find a balance between the amount of time they spend on computers and phones that is not absolutely necessary so that it does not become something that even has the power to take over their lives. It is so easy to spend hours scrolling through funny articles or binge watching a show when you have free time, but it also becomes easy to start doing this when you are busy with other work because it turns into a habit.
Black Mirror provides such a harsh yet honest criticism on where society is headed that I can only watch one episode at a time because after more than that I start taping over the webcam on my computer or hiding my phone in my drawer at night. The fact that I even have these fears show how close modern civilization is to matching this fictional world and how important it is to prevent that from happening.