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. If you’re another educator who uses “Black Mirror” in the classroom, I would love to hear from you.

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Black Mirror Reflection Guidelines

This semester, University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media students watched four episodes of “Black Mirror” – Nosedive, White Bear, Playtest and Arkangel. 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.

 

Black Mirror Reflection: Facetune

What if we could edit people’s appearances in real life the way we edit them in photos? For example, if someone uses an app to make themselves appear thinner and their friend’s teeth look whiter – what if they could actually fix that as instantly in real life as they can on their devices?

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: Red and Blue

This episode begins in December 2032. Technology has become much more advanced and has changed the social structure of the states. Everyone is required to wear holographic ID bracelets that emit from a chip implanted in their arms. These bracelets monitor people’s vitals, location, and can receive messages and calls, and its colors depend on the wearer’s.

Black Mirror Reflection: Pest Control

In the future, people live in a world where drones complete everyday household tasks. Albert 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: Mesmerizing Advertising

Scientists are already discovering ways in which neuro-hacking, a thread of technological hardware, would work and how it could be used for neuro-science-based self-improvement of mood and health. But where there is good with newfangled machinery and techno-advances, there can also be bad.

Black Mirror Reflection: Worthy

At first, it would be very difficult to understand why this group of specific people is grouped together in the reality show. What links each season of people together is their desperate need for an organ transplant. An interactive show, the cast competes throughout the season to win the hearts of America’s viewers, and most importantly, the organ they need to continue living.

Black Mirror Reflection: Chromosomes

Today, there are companies like 23andMe and Ancestry that allow you to send in a sample of your DNA to trace your lineage. In the near future, these types of companies and products will become highly advanced, pushing towards a more invasive industry with ulterior motives.

Black Mirror Reflection: AppleOfMyi

In society, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is no longer relevant, because humanity judges everyone and everything from the first glimpse. Wallace and Samantha have just married and are trying to start the family of their dreams. The new trend is a new mobile app that allows families to create their children in the image they want.

Black Mirror Reflection: Easy Place

In Easy Place, everything is convenient. Everywhere you look, there is technology, and nothing natural. The trees are holograms, the birds are robotic, and even the streets move right under your feet. There are no pesky insects thanks to the permanent insect barrier very high in the sky. There are only smart houses and buildings where everything comes to you, such as food, water, merchandise, and maybe even work or services.

Black Mirror Reflection: Drive Me Crazy

In the year 2050, society is beginning to adapt to life with self-driving cars. Many people are skeptical about whether to trust the cars, but they are left with no choice when a law is passed prohibiting human-driven cars from roadways. As society becomes dependent on self-driving cars, and cars become “smarter,” passengers eventually experience nightmare consequences.

Black Mirror Reflection: WarFace

Seeing his only surviving family member live through what seems like a war every day, Kevin decides to search the internet for help. He stumbles upon a website called “WarFace,” a state of the art, virtual reality company that develops video games about wars and combat while studying the effects of what simulated war experiences can do to the brain.

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: 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: Into the Woods

In recent months, a new app came out for camping lovers. This app allows campers to communicate and share their trips with others. The app is called “Camped,” and it allows people to leave reviews about a camping site and give tips and feedback as well as directions. The app makes it easy for the camper to set up the site and get into and out of the woods easily.

Black Mirror Reflection: Influencers

Many people in today’s world have started to notice how personal the advertisements are that they see when browsing the internet, and many believe the government is spying on us to make this happen.

Black Mirror Reflection: Be Yourself

In the near future, technology has evolved, and people can pay to Photoshop themselves in real life for certain periods of time. When you return home, you can undo your Photoshop. Kim is tired of being perfectly edited.

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: Socially Awkward

Everyone is addicted to their cell phones – to the point they cannot interact or communicate with each other confidently without them. Brode clings to his girlfriend. They hang out and get dinner, but they just shyly look at each other and text each other. They don’t talk. Because technology has made them too awkward to hold a conversation in real life.

Black Mirror Reflection: No Fire

In the future, there is a new gun technology. A gun will only fire if a certain person owns it. If a person bought a gun and it was theirs, the technology, through fingerprint or DNA, would only allow the gun to be fired if that person was holding it.

Black Mirror Reflection: Dis-order

The year is 2065, and the latest home innovation is the newest feature from Amazon XX, which automatically restocks every car and home that is registered with them. From things as simple as toiletries to kitchen appliances, they have it covered, and it is instantly replaced.

Black Mirror Reflection: The First Amendement

In 2050, a law is passed that prevents people from speaking to each other aloud. The only contact allowed is through texting or some form of media. Some decide to fight back.

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: Come Together America

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: Mr. Perfect

The year is 2025, and there is a new dating app recently released called “Mr. Perfect.” “Mr. Perfect” is just like any other online dating app where two people interact through the internet hoping they will find a romantic partner. However, this app is a little bit different because the women on the app control every aspect of and are the sole pickers of the men they wish to speak to.

Black Mirror Reflection: Conspiracy

The episode’s theme would be around modern journalism and the rise of conspiracy sites that have been given more credence in society. In the episode, the investigative department teams with a few industry insiders in the journalism field to track down the owners of a popular news/conspiracy site.

Black Mirror Reflection: Phaxxon Industries

Trent Walters is a normal teen. He grew up in the suburbs in a middle class family, and had just graduated high school. He waited until the spring semester to enroll in college so he could work to save some money during the fall.

Black Mirror Reflection: FilterMe

The year is 2078, and an extreme form of political correctness has taken over the entire U.S. A new software called “FilterMe” that was created three years prior to this time is installed on every technological device that filters everything you read, say, and type in order to regulate political correctness.

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: The New Digital Age

In the near future, any time you see something on social media that you like, you have the opportunity to immediately buy that item. Everything you see online has a purchase button right at your finger tips.

Black Mirror Reflection: Interlock

Interlock is the name of a new company undergoing trials for a revolutionary new technology. The invention by the company is a helmet-shaped device that can be worn between two people, and a skill set can be transferred from one person to another.

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: Always Watching

For years, ads have been popping up on people’s phones about things they have recently Googled or places they have visited. Since 2038, Sarah and the rest of society has been experiencing weird things. When they even think of something, it appears.  

Black Mirror Reflection: The Dating Game

The year is 2037. Developers of dating sites have created new software to make it easier to find your soulmate and take the hassle out of dating people you may not be interested in. This new technology allows you to scan a person you see on the street or look up potential mates and see their dating profile, which allows every person they interact with romantically or go on a date with to rate them and leave comments about their interactions.

Black Mirror Reflection: Wellbeing

Imagine a post-war country in which all of its citizens constantly project happiness in a competition of resources. Ozzy lives in a post-war world where a large portion of the population has been wiped out. Due to war destruction, resources are scarce. After the war, global depression rates rose and global health declined. This created competition regarding the levels of happiness in countries, and nations soon became obsessed with their image and how they are perceived by other nations.

Black Mirror Reflection: Toxic

Nervous for her first day of work, Olivia goes to bed early. She wakes up, gets ready and leaves her house noticing a slightly different version of her neighborhood. Her parents Lexus SUV is replaced with a Tesla. She doesn’t know what it is.Olivia walks to the bus stop, grabs her Blackberry out of her purse, and it is an iPhone. Olivia has woken up in 2019.

Black Mirror Reflection: Timehop

 Every day, the app “Timehop” allows users to see what they posted a year (up to many years) ago on that very day. This allows users to reminisce about what their life was like.  Wouldn’t it be cool if when the app showed you what you did a year/years ago on that day, you could relive it?

Black Mirror Reflection: Quikdoc

Society has begun using AI for nearly everything. AI has replaced doctors’ offices and created apps you can access from anywhere at anytime. The app the Wilson family uses is Quikdoc. Quikdoc is capable of doing anything a doctor, pharmacist, or technician can do. But sometimes mistakes are made.

Black Mirror Reflection: Scream of Consciousness

In a country much like America, the government has decided they have reached their limit with mass violence and terrorism. Their solution is to implant a chip in every citizen’s mind that uploads their stream of consciousness and thoughts onto a platform like Twitter.

Black Mirror Reflection: Locked Out

Jane, a mother of four, lives in Nashville. Her husband is leaving for the weekend on a business trip. Jane has to watch her four children by herself, but it won’t be a problem because she has a smart house.

Black Mirror Reflection: To Serve and Protect

In the opening scene, we see a group of high-ranking government officials in a top secret room of an unmarked building in a large, crime-ridden metropolis. As they officially gather around, three men in white lab coats wheel in a large man-sized item covered by a sheet. The sheet is lifted to reveal an android, a robot with an unusually small metal torso and head with large robotic arms and legs much longer and larger than any normal human proportions.

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.

What Are The Positives And Negatives Of Developing Digital Contacts?

Daja Wade “The Entire History of You” is another “Black Mirror” episode that introduces a form of technology that is already in the works of being perfected. Currently, we are able to read and research the progress of the development of contact lenses that would be able to store footage as memories and do many other …

We Are Personally Becoming The Infrastructure For Mass Surveillance

Barney Thompson “The Entire History of You” focuses on Liam and his wife Ffion and the aftermath of his early arrival home from a business trip, but the true star of the episode is The Grain. The device, assuredly a world-changing invention, records everything its user sees and stores the memories for indefinite access. Right …

Humans Couldn’t Handle The Memory Technology In ‘The Entire History of You’

Christina Purvis Black Mirror’s “The Entire History of You” doesn’t reveal itself as a dystopian society in the beginning. As the show progresses, the world seems like it has the best technological advances, but it is actually dangerously invasive. When Liam begins to suspect that his wife his cheating on him, he forces himself into …