Black Mirror Season 3, Episode 1: Nosedive. Parallels with Instagram
I have really come to enjoy the Netflix series, "Black Mirror," and the way in which is shines a light on various social problems within our society. In the first episode of Season 3 (Nosedive), the series showed us a not-so-distant future where each person rated each other on their cell phones from 1 to 5 stars after having any social interaction with them. People could upload photographs from their phones, similar to the Instagram platform, and their contacts would rate the quality of that upload from 1 to 5 stars as well. All of these ratings then calculated an average for each person, i.e. 4.2 stars, or 4.8 stars, or 2.5 stars, etc. When people with higher rated stars rate another person's social interaction or photo/post as a 5, it has a higher impact on the scoring. Society had perks in place for higher rated people. For example, at the airport, only people rated above a 4.2 could get on a specific flight. At an apartment complex, users with a 4.5 rating got a discount, and so on.
The whole episode was a glaring metaphor into our interactions on social media. As a photographer active on several social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, the metaphor hit home. I have found that many photographers engage each other in this "fake" way online, all with the purpose and intent to gain more followers, get more likes, and gain business, presumably.
Take Instagram as a perfect example - users with several thousand followers consistently gain more likes and exposure on the platform, regardless of the actual quality of the photograph. These users are also able to promote print sales, workshop events, and other business-related activities through the platform due to how popular they are on the platform. Yes, I'm aware that there are complex algorithms that dictate who sees what, and how often, but in general, the more followers one has, the more exposure they will get.
All this being said, I found the Black Mirror episode quite relevant to the current state of social media and photography, and I did not like what it says about us as a whole. Your comments are welcome!
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