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10 months ago

The Black Mirror of reality

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When asked whether they believe in fairy tales or science fiction, the majority will say they believe in science fiction rather than fairy tales. Because what has happened without proof is just a rumour to the general public. 

People tend to believe in what is likely to happen. However, more than a quarter of the imaginary science that people are generating today or tomorrow will take shape with the help of technology. But the prevailing political framework has an impact on science fiction too. 

The focus on technology, space and time travel, and parallel universes in science fiction cannot help but evoke perennial political questions, such as the nature of a just social order and who should rule; freedom, free will, and autonomy; and the advantages and drawbacks of progress. 

A mind-bending science-fiction anthology series on Netflix, Black Mirror, has a total of six seasons with 27 episodes. It is widely praised for its thought-provoking storytelling. 

Throughout the series, there is a foretaste of the precarious future that we are heading toward due to enhanced technological use.  

'Nosedive,' one of the episodes that came in 2016, tells the story of one such society in which everyone shares their everyday activities via eye implants, and people can rate one another on a scale of one to five stars for every encounter they have with the aid of a device, which has an impact on their socioeconomic position. 

The plot centres around Lacie Pound, who must boost her rating from 4.2 to 4.5 to purchase a luxurious property. But to improve her rating, she must appear perfect in the eyes of society, i.e., she must pretend to be someone she is not, which is a sign of False Consciousness. 

Lacie is allowed to raise the rating coincidentally, but at what cost? In Nose Dive, the status is shown as currency. Also, the value of someone's social standing in a closely-knit community is strongly tied to their actual social worth and is a function of an individual's true value to others. 

The show indicates a future in which the relationship between a person's status and their actual worth is nearly non-existent. The message it gives is that the majority is willingly producing false consciousness, which is causing class conflict. 

But in 2019, this writer learned of some troubling news regarding Project Daisy. It all started in 2017 when a British teenager killed herself after viewing graphic images of self-harm and suicide on Instagram. 

Her father even told the BBC that in her suicide note, she described how she was 'living in a trap' and was 'addicted' to social media. 

Amid growing outrage, Instagram finally took a step forward to eliminate the issue by initiating Project Daisy, under which users can no longer see the number of reactions another person's post has received. 

In this way, its users can escape the world of 'show-offs' and 'lies'. So, undervaluing individuals simply because they lack exceptional virtues is no longer an unfortunate event; it has now become a tradition, and we are already living in a dystopia. So 'Nosedive' finally nosedived into our society.

How can we only blame technology when politics is involved? Politics has even infiltrated our consciousness and is controlling us while we are unaware. The writer looked for solutions to this issue in Mill's and Marx's works. 

Mill is a strong believer in liberalism and democracy. In Considerations on Representative Government, Mill argued that representative democracy is the ideal form of government. However, Mill also feared the 'tyranny of the majority' in which the many oppress the few, who, according to democratic ideals, have just as much right to pursue their legitimate ends. 

On a particular issue, people will align themselves either for or against that issue; the side with the greatest volume will prevail but is not necessarily correct. Thus, this majority oppression normalises some of the evils that society needs to be protected from. 

Here comes the outrageous obsession of putting a fake self in front of society just to fit in. Social media has created an alternate reality where users want to publicise their personalities. Those who cannot do so must leave society's so-called elite segment. 

And this False Consciousness is gradually dividing the people. Mill was not alone in raising the issue. Karl Marx was also aware of false consciousness and ideology. He blamed the ruling class of the Capitalist Society for creating false consciousness. 

He believed that class, the dominant material force in society, is also its dominant intellectual force. The Class consciousness we are seeing now is an aspect of Marxist theory. 

While we are comprehending the political theories, a Social Credit System has already been launched by the Chinese government and is still evolving. We are worried about the spread of False Consciousness on social media and seeking a remedy. Still, since that system is now going to be controlled by the government, one must be concerned about how dangerous the future world will be for simple living.

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