Recently we’ve been mainlining the new series of Black Mirror on Netflix. It’s a delightfully disturbing dystopian view of the future. Or now. The genius of it lies in storylines which offer a take on where we are now as a society and follow that to a natural dark conclusion. Anyway. Watch it and report back.
The first story was a little too close to where we are now. Describing a world where people interact and then instantly offer a score on their phone, rating the interaction. It’s a simple enough premise with a dark undertone. Your score in life gets you certain places, if you have a low score you can’t access many services and people don’t want to be with you. If you have a high score the world appears to be your oyster. As the story unfolds we realise that there is no real connection, no honesty in conversation, what takes place is only what will boost ratings. The best scene is the last one when two people shout at each other, insult one another and are deeply joyful because at last they are able to say whatever they like, free from the demand for ratings.
Aside from it’s similarity to Max Lucado’s You’re Special story (a must read) it was a fascinating take on where we are heading as a society.
Watching it I felt relieved that we aren’t there yet but as the days went on after seeing it I began to wonder. I had an excellent chat with an old friend on Skype where we both voiced opinions and asked questions that we couldn’t have online. We said things that would have got us shot down from all sides in a second on Twitter or Facebook. We asked some of the big faith questions of the moment. We proffered different opinions from accepted lines of thinking and were able to safely ask and ponder answers. These are things I just don’t want to write about online. I fear the overreaction of many, I fear nuance and relationship being lost along the way and I think I’m right to reserve talking about some things for the world of face to face, flesh and blood, interactions.
But I wonder if we are ever asking big questions of each other? I wonder if we ever have space to say the stuff we are really thinking? I wonder if we are giving each other the gift of listening in the midst of that? I wonder if we are far too used to silencing part of our thoughts so we won’t cause offence or go against the norms and values of our tribe? I think this plays out in so many areas, faith, parenting, politics and more.
I wonder where are the safe places to consider opinions different to our own? Where can we say things that are different to the accepted norms of those around us and still know we are loved and valued? I wonder where the safe places are to have nuanced conversations where we try out different positions and don’t have our entire selves judged on what position we might hold on certain issues?
That’s a whole lot of wondering. Can anyone help me out? Do you self censor yourself? Do you feel a different person online to the one you are when you chat face to face? Are you talking about the areas you don’t always agree with your tribe on? (And if so how and where?) how do we disagree well?
I would love some thoughts on this.