The Black Mirror Project

Black Mirror is a British science fiction television anthology series set in the near future that explores the potentially dark consequences of technology and social media. Each episode has a different cast with a unique story and, like most science fiction, it offers a prophetic warning about what could happen if we lose control and allow technology to control us.

The show, created by Charlie Brooker, was first broadcast on British television in 2011. It is now a Netflix original series, and some have called it a modern day “Twilight Zone.”

Recognizing its potential for the discussion of modern and future media, some colleges and universities across the country have incorporated “Black Mirror” into their journalism and communications classes.

This is a fan site. It is not affiliated with the television show “Black Mirror.” It’s just creatively inspired by it. We dream that Charlie Brooker will turn one of our ideas into an episode. For more information, email ldrucker@olemiss.edu.

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Black Mirror Reflection Guidelines

This semester, University of Mississippi Meek School of Journalism and New Media students watched three episodes of “Black Mirror” – Nosedive, White Bear and Playtest. Then they were given three instructions:

1. Think about the three episodes of “Black Mirror” that we watched. Think about technology and social media in the near future. Research the future of technology by Googling and reading several articles on the subject. Talk to friends, family and professors to get ideas.

2. Imagine that you’ve just been hired as a writer for the television show “Black Mirror.” It’s your job to come up with a storyline for your own episode, but you only have a week to do it or you get fired. Your episode will be featured in the next season of “Black Mirror.”

3. Write a one-page, double-spaced report describing your episode and the characters that you imagine starring in it. What technology is used and how? Think about a scenario involving technology and social media, and take that idea to an extreme. There’s your story.

Students who may find the assignment too creatively challenging are given the option of researching the future of technology and media, focusing on one aspect of it, and making a prediction about it.

You will find a collection of creative “Black Mirror” responses on this website that is designed to showcase student work while prompting discussion of the future of technology and media.

Black Mirror Reflections

You’ll find a number of student-submitted Black Mirror Reflections below. You can read more about the project here. If you’re interested in submitting your own Black Mirror Reflection or writing a review of an episode, email ldrucker@olemiss.edu.

 

Black Mirror Reflection: The Game

Picture this, you live in a world that is run by an application. With every decision you encounter in life, a bubble pops up with the decision you are facing along with four different solutions to the decision.

Black Mirror Reflection: Fitbit

The U.S. government issues a law that requires all citizens to wear a Fitbit that is linked to a government database. They must meet a 10,000 step requirement every day and have their diets monitored so that the country can become a superpower again.

Black Mirror Reflection: Warriors

Each year, there is a recruiting process, but only for girls. Girls who have just became teenagers train for war. They leave for this journey on their 13th birthday.

Black Mirror Reflection: Fallout

The episode begins in a pristine, utopian society. We follow a male protagonist, portrayed by Timothée Chalamet, who is a typical male businessman. He works for a startup company.

Black Mirror Reflection: The Perfect Date

In 2060, a group of sorority girls are having a difficult time finding a date for their last formal before they graduate and go off to space school. So they decide to order a hologram date with their touchscreen computers using the website Perfect Date.

Black Mirror Reflection: The Game of Love

In the near future, babies are inserted with identical microchips at birth identifying them as soulmates. At age 18, young lovers must play a game to find each other that will end in love or death.

Black Mirror Reflection: An Apple a Day

In 2035, humans have given up their rights to a familiar corporation, Apple. Over the years, the company has fed the public’s tech addictions, and the entire world has become slave to the company. News of the latest iPhone upgrade permeates all forms of social media and television. Apple runs the world, and the company has all power over the government and its people, making citizens stay updated on their latest products or face consequences.

Black Mirror Reflection: The Center

Scientists have developed technology that gives them the ability to make people live longer, adding years onto their lives. When this discovery was made, it was groundbreaking and exciting, with everyone wanting to be one of the first individuals to use it.

Black Mirror Reflection: Face Swap

Two childhood friends, Johanna and Leilani, FaceTime to keep in touch. They attend different schools and lead two very different lives, but despite their differences, they remain very close. On one of their FaceTime calls, something strange happens.

Black Mirror Reflection: Maid to Order

Everyone has artificial intelligence in their homes in the year 2065, and they are using robots in their everyday lives. The robots do daily chores and make sure families stay comfortable. A couple, Dave and June, are arguing about whether or not add a robot to their family.

Black Mirror Reflection: A Beautiful Life

In a future overpopulated world, doctors have developed an affordable medicine that allows people to live longer. People can add years to their lives by taking the medicine. However, this eventually leads to overpopulation and competition for food, jobs, shelter and other resources. One woman trying to make ends meet finds herself in a life-altering situation.

Black Mirror Reflection: Two Worlds of Information

Two worlds exist. The people of the larger world are controlled by the media they consume. The people of the smaller world experimentally release media to the larger world to test their intelligence.

Black Mirror Reflection: Conspiracy

My episode of “Black Mirror” would be structured like a police drama to set it apart from other episodes. I imagine it being similar to the early episodes of “Psycho Pass.”

Black Mirror Reflection: A Virtual Match

In the near future, people use an app that enables them to virtually date. Once two people are matched and qualified to go virtual, they can go on a virtual date with one another “anywhere” they choose.

Black Mirror Reflection: Designer Babies

By Haleigh Hurt Today is May 4. At this time, exactly two years ago, I was standing under an arbor in a long, white dress looking into the eyes of my now-husband, vowing that we’d be together forever. This anniversary is special, and the anticipation of the pressing conversation that we both know is coming …

Black Mirror Reflection: Space X

In the future, there is an Earth colony and a Mars colony with distinctly different ways of life. With continuous travel between the two planets (Space X reusable rockets), the Mars colony is significantly more affluent, and this becomes a problem.

Black Mirror Reflection: Analysis and Partner Match Process

By Hailey Cunningham My “Black Mirror” episode idea was inspired by our society’s obsession and fascination with dating apps, such as Tinder and Bumble. I constantly hear about couples meeting on dating websites and apps. Awkward in-person confrontations and rejection are eliminated. It is also more convenient and less time-consuming to click through profiles of …

Black Mirror Reflection: Sally

In this episode, it is extremely difficult to tell humans apart from artificial intelligence robots. Sally is one of many artificial intelligence robots created by the United States government.

Black Mirror Reflection: APT

By Katherine Johnson The world is divided. There are the “APT’s” and the “NON’s” all over the world. If you fall into the APT category, you have a genetically modified aptitude to be good at your passion. If you are a NON, what you enjoy doing is different than you genetic aptitude. The fate of …

Black Mirror Reflection: Pest Control

In this futuristic society, people live in a world where drones complete everyday household tasks. Albert, the main character, is a middle-class white male in his early 40s. He has multiple drones in his home that assist with daily chores.

Black Mirror Reflection: Come Together America

My episode takes place several years into the future. At this time, around 2040, social media and technology have really taken off. There have been several new social media websites invented, and everybody is amazed by social media and technology, even more than they are today.

Black Mirror Reflection: Scream of Consciousness

My episode would be set in the near future in a country much like America where the government has decided they have reached their limit when dealing with mass violence and terrorism.

Black Mirror Reflection: Neuro Hacking

A man named Tim Fischer has invented a form of technology called “neurohacking” in Germany, and the German government is using the technology to manipulate and control the citizens of other countries.

Black Mirror Reflection: National Security

Just how much freedom are we willing to risk for our security? In the future, citizens will stand trial for committing “crimes” that are published on social media. They are convicted according to the severity of each crime. Violent acts result in penalties ranging from beatings to lynchings, and drugs and alcohol lead to long term jail time.

Black Mirror: Face to Face

For my Black Mirror episode, I would have all the people in the community, or the characters in the episode extremely addicted to their cell phones – to the point where they cannot interact or communicate with each other confidently with out them.

Black Mirror Reflection: There’s Something in My Eye

My Black Mirror episode would be about a new technology for people’s eyes. A piece of innovation that many people use today for eyesight are contacts.

Black Mirror Reflection: Indefinite Friends

In a future government-controlled community that is a visual utopia, friendship is prized above all else, and community members are assigned indefinite friends that know their whereabouts at all times. Life gets complicated when a government agent assigns Maggie a new indefinite friend.

Reflection: I Make Money Moves

My “Black Mirror” episode is about the growing problem of materialism or materialistic wealth. Many people are caught up in trying to chase money, and they forget about the other important things in life.

Black Mirror Reflection: Reflection of Society

Jamie lived in a perfect world – a world with no war, no hunger, no imperfections, nothing to worry about. Every morning, she woke at the same time, had the same perfectly cooked breakfast, and put on a perfectly tailored outfit. And before she left to attend an exclusive academy, she looked in a mirror. But it was not an ordinary mirror.

Black Mirror Reflection: A Vision of the Future

Between the years 2050-2059, I predict technology will take over the world. Most cars in the developed world will be computer-controlled. By 2050, bionic eye implants will be used by most people, and they will be able to relay data and footage on the spot.

Black Mirror Reflection: The Plug

In the near future, when someone “plugs in” to watch TV or a movie, they actually become the main characters within the picture, and experience everything that the main character is experiencing. Whether it’s physical, emotional or psychological pain, they feel it all.

Black Mirror Reflection: Heaven or Hell

Nicole Kidman would play the main woman and Alexander Skarsgard would play the man. The technology being used is augmented reality to create everyone’s personal heaven and hell. Depending on what kind of person you were while you were alive depends on what kind of augmented reality you end up with for the rest of your life.

Black Mirror Reflection: The Eye

By Adam Fargo It’s about a man who lives in the projects, and suddenly, they begin seeing advertisements for a new social media site called “The Eye.” The episode is about how the government is watching them, and no one reads the terms and conditions. People are signing up for the social media site “The …

Black Mirror Reflection: Dying to Live

In my episode of “Black Mirror,” scientists have found a cure for aging. They have found medicine that prevents people from aging on the outside and inside. Although people cannot age, they can still die from disease and physical damage.

Black Mirror Reflection: Swipe Left or Right

In the near future, a beautiful girl begins a downward spiral when she receives negative feedback from social media similar to the Tinder app. Everyone walks around with their phones, swiping left or right each time they encounter someone, which affects the person’s dating and friendship ratings.

Black Mirror Reflection: For the Better

In 2034, after birth, each person is required to receive a brain implant called “MonorU.” MonorU broadcasts the thoughts every person has regularly, then displays those thoughts on a social media website called BetterU. Users vote to “censor” or “ignore” a person’s thoughts. Delvin McKinney, 17, is on the verge of dissenting.

Black Mirror Reflection: Verified

In the near future, superiority is based on social media accounts. If a person is verified on Twitter or Instagram, they have more privileges than people who are not verified. There are Vs and Zeros, and they don’t mix.

Black Mirror Reflection: Artemis

In 2320, the Earth is quickly becoming far too cramped. In response, an aeronautics corporation called Artemis has launched a project. The moon will act as the planet’s storage, aided by a “lunar elevator.”

Black Mirror Reflection: Masked Men

Facial recognition is a growing technology that could potentially replace many things in modern society. The conversation of facial recognition recently caught fire with Apple’s release of the latest iPhone X.

Black Mirror Reflection: Birth Control

A mother, father, and daughter, 9, live in 2060, and technology and crime are more prevalent. When children are born, a microchip is implanted in their arms. This enables the government and law officials to track a citizen any time.

Using Black Mirror in the Classroom

Some have called “Black Mirror” a modern day “Twilight Zone,” and like the vintage science fiction series that often envisioned the future, “Black Mirror” brilliantly conveys how media and technology could alarmingly devolve in the near future. That’s why some educators are using it in the classroom.

Frank Bridges, of Rutgers University, has written a piece called Black Mirror as a Pedagogical Tool in the Classroom. He said a show like “Black Mirror” “allows students to experience a taste of the not-so-distant future for 45 minutes and still have time to discuss their ideas in class.”

Bridges cites the episode The Entire History of You in which an implanted device called a “grain” captures and indexes video and audio of everything viewed by the recipient.

“The episode may feel jarring and its ideas inconceivable,” he writes, “but it can be explained to the class that elements are already available with existing technologies such as augmented reality glasses, compact flash memory, retinal implants, and networked home devices.”

Bridges said educators can incorporate other materials, such as media articles, to prepare students before watching the episodes that can prompt them to begin thinking about the future of technology.

In my mass communications class at the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media, students first learn about the history of mass media before we begin envisioning the future with the help of “Black Mirror.” Students begin to think about their personal relationship with technology, social media and electronic communication. Some have said it was “eye-opening.”

Emily Glover, of the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education, offers advice about how to teach pop culture and TV shows. She says television shows, news stories, podcasts and other popular media can be used as teaching tools to help students learn digital literacy skills.

Glover said the ethical use of technology is one of the main themes of digital literacy. It’s important for students to understand how media and technology affect them and how they affect media and technology.

“The British anthology series ‘Black Mirror’ (often compared to ‘Twilight Zone’) requires the viewer to reflect and discuss the implications technology has (and will have) on our lives,” Glover writes. “While episodes push high school classroom boundaries, some courses in higher education have jumped on the ‘Black Mirror’ bandwagon.”

Glover said teaching television programs such as “Black Mirror” and “The Twilight Zone,” (which we also looked at this semester in contrast), provide an engaging framework for discussing the appropriate use of technology, media ethics and the future of tech.

In a MediaShift article, Jeremy Littau writes that one of the great things about science fiction is that it can tell us about ourselves. He explains that the original “Star Trek” series used the idea of “humans traveling the galaxy in a starship to tell stories about race, gender, class and moral choices.”

Littau, an assistant professor of journalism and communication at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, has also used “Black Mirror” in his classroom to approach weekly discussions about technology, media and society. Wednesdays are “Black Mirror” days in his class. Students watch the show and Tweet a 140-character review about the episodes. He also shows them other tech-related articles.

Littau is right when he says “Black Mirror” is not for everyone, and I agree it should be handled with care if used in class. Personally, I wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing some episodes with students, and I use trigger warnings when setting up the episodes.

Katy E. Pearce, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington, also uses “Black Mirror” in the classroom. In her syllabus, she writes that each episode taps into our unease about technology. “Each episode is a superb platform for ethical debates,” she said.

Pearce notes that students should realize the show is speculative fiction with mature themes. “Episodes are fascinating,” she said, “but also disturbing, as the show features graphic content.”

Some teachers have even posted “Black Mirror” Nosedive worksheets online for grades 9-12. The worksheets include a pre-viewing activity about social media habits, a viewing quiz, and worksheets about themes and complex characters. Students are asked to write a character-based essay.

My students were asked to envision themselves as writers for the show and come up with an idea for a new episode of “Black Mirror.” You can read some of their Black Mirror Reflections here.

Black Mirror Episode Reviews

Students watched several episodes of Black Mirror this semester. Here are a few of their reviews.

‘White Bear’ violates NPPA Code of Ethics

Most episodes of “Black Mirror” are a little disturbing, and “White Bear” is no exception. At first, it seems like a dystopia or post-apocalyptic world. After some reflection, I think what is often the most unsettling thing about the “White Bear” episode and so many other episodes of “Black Mirror” is you are kind of going through the experience with the character.

‘Nosedive’s’ score is a commodification of the value we see in others on social media

While the premise of “Nosedive” can seem rather far-fetched at first, it ties heavily into our every day lives and ways social media is being implemented today. Thematically, the episode does a good job in representing the populace’s addiction to social media. The score is interesting as a literal commodification of the value we see in other people on social media.