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Reflections on a satire

7th Nov 2016
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I like a dystopian satire as much as the next person, so when Netflix announced they had given a home to professional pessimist Charlie Brooker's brilliant series Black Mirror I was delighted. 

Cut to: months later and the thing was actually being released. 

In their customary have-them-all-at-once fashion all six episodes came out on the same day at the same time (what we lose in watercooler moments,we gain in being treated like adults who will damn well watch four straight hours of TV without so much as getting up from the sofa if we so desire). 

I've only watched episode one but I enjoyed it immensely despite and also because of its dark cynicism. Let's just say gamification does not fare well. I know he's using extreme examples to make a point, but here's why I think Charlie Brooker and co-writers Rashida Jones and Michael Schur (of Parks and Recreation) have got it wrong:

  • Not everything will be Uber-ised. The Uber explosion of the last two years in the U.K. has been a true phenomenon, and the service/shut-in economy driven by San Francisco start-ups is full of companies that work on similar mechanisms, but it won't be like this in future. Sure, the programme makes a good stab at tech-enabled social development for the purposes of satire but you'd have to have a pretty bleak view of humanity to give this any credence. That said, if my wife wasn't 38 weeks pregnant I'd consider ranking her down for snoring (I'm writing this blog post in bed).
  • Smartphones will be long gone. Here it's a good visual narrative device, but most signs are pointing to much of the functionality of smartphones to feature in clothing, jewellery and other wearable accessories. Google Glass may only be on hiatus, most likely because it was ahead of the curve of public acceptance, even if its marketing was a total disaster.
  • Social competition is ripe for satire, but it can be healthy.

All these things add up to an unfair representation of a gamified future. But it's just satire. You have to love something to satirise it properly right? Right?

More musings soon. Maybe I won't leave it so long next time. I might get down-ranked if I do...

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