By Ansley Stephenson
I decided to review my favorite episode of the Netflix series “Black Mirror.” Hated in the Nation is my personal favorite for several reasons, and I believe it says a lot about the (theoretical) future influence of technology and the media on our lives.
Similarly to all other episodes in the critically-acclaimed series, this episode considers the possible outcomes of certain current issues. The “#SaveTheBees” cause is one I am currently quite interested in. The Green Peace foundation regrettably reports that “if wild pollinator declines continue, we run the risk of losing a substantial proportion of the world’s flora.”
Hated in the Nation supposes that, in the near future, the extinction of pollinators will necessitate the invention and implementation of alternative, drone-like, faux bees known as “ADIs.”
The sudden death of a prominent journalist, Mrs. Jo Powers, who had just penned a highly controversial article, leads to the shocking discovery that these ADIs have serious potential for abuse.
Although humanitarian and even life-saving in theory, the ADI program becomes compromised when a jaded, former government employee gains control of the many millions of drones. The hacker, Garrett Scholes, became obsessed with the power of social media to devastate lives following his experience saving the life of his then-roommate as she attempted suicide in their shared apartment bathroom.
His roommate had been the target of relentless cyber-bullying. This experience led Scholes to seek revenge by creating the Twitter-powered “Game of Consequences” wherein he hoped to (violently) demonstrate the power of media and the consequences of cyber-bullying for the general public.
Scholes’ Consequence game seemed simple at first. To participate, users could Tweet the hashtag “#DeathTo” along with a name and photo of any person of their choosing. At the end of each day, the person whose name and photo received the most votes would be killed.
Jo Powers won the first day’s vote and, unfortunately, Scholes kept his word. By manipulating the drones, Scholes was able to target individuals via facial recognition and end their lives painfully and suddenly without leaving a single trace.
The final minutes of the episode reveal a deeper meaning behind the “consequences” of Scholes’ game. Each user who uses the hashtag “DeathTo” unknowingly adds themselves to a list of final victims.
The endgame was unlike anything I could’ve imagined. This episode combined with the rest of the incredible series provides a terrifying glimpse into our possible near future.