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: Designer Babies

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 gives me butterflies in my stomach. Finally! I thought. We get to pick out our baby.

Black Mirror Reflection: Mastercar

Sam and Dave are two friends, who after Sam’s recent purchase of a new car, set off on a road trip from New York to California. While both are aware of the government GPS that comes with all new cars via the license plates, they aren’t worried because they figure it’s a free country; they can do what they want.

Black Mirror Reflection: Fair Trial By Jury

I decided that in my episode I would address this by creating a “fair and equal” trial by jury. In this episode, when you are convicted, you do not appear in front of a normal jury of your peers, but of 10 robots, and once your decision is final, a robot judge will come up with your sentence.

Black Mirror Reflection: The Network

The Network is an online social media platform that lets members instantly watch other members’ lives. A chip is inserted behind the optic nerve, and the neural images are automatically uploaded to The Network for members to view. Once implanted, the only way to turn the stream off is death.

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: Social Politics

In the near future, U.S. citizens use a social media app on cellular devices to control the government. The citizens have the power to vote in elections and control policies using the app. However, the immediate control citizens have over government leads to the country’s destruction.

Black Mirror Reflection: Fake News

In the near future, when a baby is born, the doctors immediately place a new reality altering implant within the baby’s brain. In essence, this implant would be both an audio and visual filter that would allow people to fact check information in real time which plays very well into the fake news politics we see in today’s world.

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: APT

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.

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: iPhone Z

When the iPhone Z comes out, Samantha and Cole are each selected to be the first to own the new phone (along with other similar people around the world, but the episode only follows Sam and Cole).

Black Mirror Reflection: The Eye

A man who lives in the projects suddenly begins seeing advertisements for a new social media site called “The Eye.” The government is watching its citizens, and no one reads the terms and conditions of the site. Donny hates social media because he believes it is a “societal downfall.”

Black Mirror Reflection: Alexa

In the near future, people begin to rely on the newest model of Alexa for everything. Companies and businesses replace employees with devices like Alexa, eliminating daily personal interactions. For one woman, the new technological advances have resulted in a lonely existence.

Black Mirror Reflection: Glory Cult

Today, being religious requires going to church and hearing a pastor live and in-person. In 2045, the religious experience in America has evolved and physical pastors are no more since 2040.

Black Mirror Reflection: Sally

It is 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: 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: 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: Analysis and Partner Match Process

In 2070, people are smarter, more technologically advanced, and have learned from history’s mistakes. The episode focuses on a young woman named Heidi, who is approaching age 25. She has been waiting for this day for as long as she can remember. This is because, in Heidi’s world, turning 25 means you go to Headquarters for your “Analysis and Partner Match Process” otherwise known as APMP.

Black Mirror Reflection: Chameleon

If I were to do a “Black Mirror” episode, I would be about something relevant and still prevalent today, which would be racial tensions and gender. My “Black Mirror” episode would be called “Chameleon,” and it would be about racial tensions and the need for others to conform to survive.

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: Road Rage

It is the year 2085, and driving oneself is overrated. The only mode of transportation is by the use of self-driving cars. The cars are government-owned and operated through the use of a phone app and identification cards, or “ICs.”

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: Face to Face

People live in their own rooms without any other human contact. They have robots who go into the world and do things for them. Kate, who has her own luxurious room and high speed robot, has grown up living in a room by herself, and she loves it. Kate gets her robot to bring her food, run errands, and do virtually any task that must take place outside of her room.

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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: Bubble Buds

In the year 2050, scientists have recently created a new pair of earrings that are linked to an app called Bubble Buds. The earrings enable the wearer to use an app and see other people in surrounding areas. They can zoom in, listen to conversations, thoughts and feelings with the touch of a button. This proves problematic for a young girl named Carlie.

Black Mirror Reflection: Prospect

The episode would be titled “Prospect.” It would follow a D-I athlete in the year 2089, but after legislation against youth football and other sports pull the traditional varsity sports down in popularity, eSports have taken over as the top sport on college campuses.

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: 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: American Lottery

In the near future, the desire for power rules the intentions of everyone in this country. Presidential terms in this America last four years, but presidents are not elected by a democracy. Instead, for a short time every four years, advertisements are shown on TV, social media, and billboards selling a “raffle” of sorts that would allow every person, regardless of factors like social status, age, and race, the chance to become president.

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: Fallout

In a pristine, utopian society, there lives a typical male businessman who works for a startup company. He has business dinners, exercises, works at home, walks around the city, etc. Everything seems irritatingly normal and happy until one night when he is lying in bed trying to remember his childhood and parents.

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: Memory Making

The year is 2090, and most of the world’s memories are contained in one single, all-encompassing, free-to-download phone application.People still live these fragments out in real-time: going on vacation, visiting their grandparents, seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time, et al. But there are key differences to memory-making in the new technological era, creating a rift between humanity’s ability to recall the past emotionally or in sensory-based waves, and the means by which we store these moments for ages to come.

Black Mirror Reflection: No Contact

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The government has created eye contacts for people around the world that make everyone around you attractive. This means no one knows what people actually look like; they only know what pleases them personally.

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 …