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.

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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: Getting Personal

What if there was a world in which an app told all of your deepest secrets between current and previous relationships. Your exes would give ratings and explain the breakup to everyone.

Black Mirror Reflections: Road Trip to Space

The episode follows the Carson Family, a family of five, who is going on a family vacation to space. Paul Carson goes to the local grocery, where he sees an ad that reads “A Free Family Trip to Space.”

Black Mirror Reflection: Life is But a Dream

In the near future, a new social media platform with profiles similar to Instagram or Twitter is invented. Everyone’s profile posts footage of a person’s dream. The dreams are live-streamed as you are dreaming them, posted to your profile, and permanently displayed without the option to be deleted.

Black Mirror Reflection: Let’s Keep In Touch

In an effort to stay connected and keep track of one another on late night endeavors, friends downloaded an application on their phones that tracks their every move as long as they have their cell phones. This application becomes helpful when a member of the group cannot be reached or hasn’t spoken to a member of the group in a while. They view this app as a way to keep each other safe.

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: 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: 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: Human Contact

What are the effects of isolation due to technological advancement? With technology that allows everything to be delivered to your door, online school becoming more common, and more jobs being worked online at home, if things keep moving forward, people will lose casual human contact.

Black Mirror Reflection: iBrain

This episode is about a new technology that changes the world and affects peoples lives and jobs. This episode will be called iBrain. A chip that is inserted into a person’s brain that transforms their brain into an automatic Google search.

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: 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: Her Every Move

In a modern day twist of “The Truman Show,” this episode will implement the use of futuristic cameras and drones to follow the life of a young woman and document her every move, creating a live TV show that viewers can watch at any time of day. She will, however, know she is constantly being watched. She chose to do this, earning a decent amount of money and a large social media following in return. 

Black Mirror Reflection: Trumble

Rosie is a small town girl who becomes obsessed with her high school’s new virtual world addiction. She is a high school junior who joins a new social media app called Trumble that allows her to anonymously connect with other people in her community.

Black Mirror Reflection: Undocumented Citizens

In the future, everyone is documented by the government thanks to advanced technology. In a futuristic maternity ward, doctors place chips behind the ears of many children just below the skin. Max is returned to his mother after the chip injection, and viewers watch Max grow to age 8.

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: 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: 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: Faking It

Anne is the definition of a pretty girl. She is popular, skinny and loved. She has been pretty since she was a kid, but her vanity led to multiple surgeries that made her waist smaller, her nose thinner, gave her fuller lips and bigger breasts. It is no surprise that she is an influencer, and that is what she lives for.

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: 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: 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: 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 Land Down Under

In the year 3000, civilians live under water because it is dangerous to live on land where humans – obsessed with technology and videogaming – drive motorized vehicles as if they were video-game controls. People in these vehicles chase other vehicles to destroy them vying for total control of the world.

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: 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: 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: 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: 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: Dreamador

In the year of 2030, the Dreamador was invented, which is a brain implant that has to be surgically inserted, and it is a device where people are able to record their dreams when they are asleep and watch them the next day. The Dreamador was invented to increase life expectancy and to force a routine sleep schedule. 

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: 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.

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 …