Black Mirror season 6 is almost here, but is the dystopian TV show finally too realistic for our times?

By Charlie Sawyer

Published May 7, 2023 at 09:15 AM

Reading time: 3 minutes

There are certain shows that have the power to exist in the cosmos for all of eternity—certain shows that burn into your brain, keep you up at night, and make you question your very existence. Black Mirror is one of those shows. The British anthology TV series, which flits between very different yet equally thought-provoking and disturbing dystopian futures each episode, has always been revered for finding the perfect balance between tech doomism and heartfelt emotional narratives.

Fans of Black Mirror definitely struggled after the show decided to take a break and for four long years, we waited. Until finally, it was confirmed that the show would be returning for a sixth season, due to be released on Netflix in June 2023.

Due to the highly secretive nature of Black Mirror, and the fact that one of the show’s creators Charlie Brooker is potentially the most elusive man in the media, we know very little about what this next season has in store. What we do know, however, is that the stories in Black Mirror push us as viewers to imagine a world where not only does technology have the ability to turn against us, it has the power to completely destroy us.

It’s no secret that the digital world has edged its way into supremacy on a number of different fronts. Virtual Reality (VR) is practically considered childsplay, robots are everywhere, and US politicians are creating AI-generated hate campaign videos, because why not?

When Black Mirror was first released in December 2011, technology was advanced, but we still had so far to go that the dystopian stories we saw on-screen felt like a lifetime away—scary and unnerving, but ludacris enough that we didn’t feel as though the narratives could ever actually play out in real life or come to fruition. Now, though, that’s completely changed.

When the new season was announced, netizens flooded Twitter to quite rightly remind us all that, wait, aren’t we currently living out season six of Black Mirror?

Not only are we watching a dystopian nightmare play out in front of our eyes on a daily basis, the biggest brains behind the digital revolution are actively warning us that ‘hey everyone, maybe things have gone too far.’ The so-called “Godfather of AI” Geoffrey Hinton recently quit his job at Google after expressing fears regarding technology and the dangers it can pose. The expert told The New York Times: “The idea that this stuff could actually get smarter than people—a few people believed that. But most people thought it was way off. And I thought it was way off. I thought it was 30 to 50 years or even longer away. Obviously, I no longer think that.”

Is it really possible that we’re officially ‘too modern’ for the kinds of science fiction TV and films we all grew up with? We might not be able to fly space ships yet, but there are definitely episodes featured in Black Mirror that feel incredibly achievable.

Take ‘NoseDive’ for example, the first episode in season three depicted a society wherein everyone’s opportunities, perks and overall life stability was based entirely on a rating system. If you had a high rating, you lived a lovely life. But if your rating slipped, your life could completely crumble beneath you.

As creator Brooker aptly notes: “Everyone’s a little bit heightened and false, because everyone is terrified of being marked down, because the consequences of that are unpleasant. So, it’s basically the world we live in.” Social media is an incredibly toxic reminder of how we’ve all become far too obsessed with trying to always present perfection online.

Or, how about ‘The Entire History of You’? In this episode, every human has a small device implanted behind their ear which records every single second of their life. If you want to relive any memory, all you have to do is touch the device and choose the time and place you want to see. Now, this concept feels totally do-able.

Human microchips have been on the agenda for some time now. During the past decade, a number of companies have introduced microchips for employees so that they can enter the building, access different machines and pay for food in the cafe, all with the swipe of their hand or wrist.

In 2022, the BBC interviewed 37-year-old Patrick Paumen who had a contactless payment microchip injected under his skin back in 2019. The security guard stated: “Chip implants contain the same kind of technology that people use on a daily basis. From key fobs to unlock doors, public transit cards like the London Oyster card, or bank cards with contactless payment function.” While he’s not wrong, having any kind of tech injected into your hand feels kind of… spooky.

We’ve only got a few weeks until season six of Black Mirror officially drops on Netflix. So, in the meantime, I suggest you start collecting rations, do one last picnic in the park, and strap in for the digital apocalypse that’s inevitably coming for us all.

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