University of Mississippi Oxford Stories students who are studying mass communications are enrolled in a “Black Mirror” themed class. In it, we watch four episodes of “Black Mirror” and think about the near future of technology and media.
This semester, they were given an assignment based on the episode called “Nosedive” in which members of society each have a social media rating that controls what they do and do not have access to in life. If your rating isn’t high enough, you cannot live in certain apartment complexes or rent certain types of vehicles. Students were tasked with creating their own Nosedive Rating System.
It was interesting to see how students chose to fictionally rank members of society. While some ranked others by their level of wealth, others chose to rank people based on their level of selfishness or generosity.
Here are some of the categories students used to help create the rating system: Amount of charitable donations, power, level of education, occupation, level of empathy, ownership of material items, travel allowances, intelligence quotient, political influence, how many constitutional rights citizens are allowed to have, level of health, restaurant accessibility, levels of happiness or unhappiness, police infractions.
These elite citizens do whatever they want. They are not required to work. Money is provided for them. They have no limitations or restrictions regarding money or lifestyle.
They are viewed as the nicest and most deserving people in society. They are viewed as people who care deeply for others. They are viewed as people who volunteer and give money to philanthropic organizations.
They are the most powerful individuals in our nation. They are perceived as the smartest group of citizens in our country. They have completed all forms of education and have earned a Ph.D or highest level of education in their respective field, or they have married someone who has. They may also be the children of someone who has.
They have access to the best doctors and finest luxuries in the world. They hold important jobs. They are CEOs, highly paid executives, important government leaders, important military officers.
They are better protected than other members of society. If someone has a 5 rating, they may move about society freely because no believes they will take advantage of others. They wear the best clothing and live in the best homes.
Being a 5 is a coveted and exclusive privilege. 5s do nothing that would downgrade their rating. They would rather starve than eat fast food, and would rather walk 10 miles in their Louboutins than take a taxi while exclaiming the walk is amazing. They only hang around other 5s and protect their 5 exclusivity at all cost.
5s are always given the best attention at any store and served before others with lower ratings. Their credit is never checked, and they are allowed to drive a car off a lot without paying, all on an IOU.
They are waited on hand and foot in high-end stores. Their closets overflow with designer labels. Clothing designers are on their speed dial, and bring them the latest fashions at any time of the night.
Those who achieve a 5 rating may travel anywhere in the world they wish to as many times as they want. They are also permitted to take their friends and family with them as long as those companions aren’t below a 3 rating.
They are considered the top 5 percent of citizens. This might include politicians, celebrities and athletes, bank owners, oil magnates, and owners of conglomerates, such as Walmart, Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc.
These are some of the most influential people in the world, and they control much of the world’s wealth. They can afford absurd amenities that would never be needed by a normal person.
They usually continue to grow in wealth by investing the wealth they already have into more business opportunities. Some view them as the Einsteins of the world. They have access to the highest level of education, teachers, and technology.
They may talk with anyone without restrictions, although they often choose not to speak with those who have ratings that are significantly lower than theirs because they don’t want to risk having their rating lowered.
They have never been convicted of a crime, or if they achieve a 5 rating, their criminal record is expunged. They are allowed to get away with things without facing jail time as long as they do not commit a crime or infringe upon the rights of anyone who has also achieved a 5 rating.
They have full driving privileges and may own any car they want. Their homes have a minimum of seven rooms and four cars. People who achieve a 5 rating are viewed as the happiest 5 percent of Americans. All advertisements featuring them display smiles and happiness.
The rest of the public has been conditioned to view 5 rated people as individuals who were determined to be successful and worked hard to achieve a 5 rating, even though some inherited this rating from their parents and grandparents.
They had unlimited funds for their education. They have control over the industries in the nation and access to elite political contacts. Along with their many privileges, they also pay the highest taxes and contribute to wealth redistribution programs meant to help raise individuals from a 1 or 2 rating.
They are allowed to exercise all of their constitutional rights. They must donate money to centers where people with 1 or 2 ratings reside. They are viewed as ideal citizens. They are seemingly above the law and have no fear of consequences.
Members of society who have a 4 rating can usually afford to do whatever they want because they are perceived as people who work for what they get. There are some limitations and money restrictions, but not much.
People with this rating are perceived as people who care a lot about people and do what they can to help others, but they do not have the resources to help others like people with a 5 rating.
Individuals who receive a 4 on the rating scale are wealthy and powerful, but not as much as those who receive a 5 rating. These individuals still live a life of luxury, but it is not as elaborate as those with a 5 rating. They are people have access to nice things, such as gated communities and better schools for their children.
They hold important, white collar jobs. This could include surgeons or the head of a law firm. This group has access to great medical care and some things those with a 5 rating have access to, excluding protection and access to upper tier groups and clubs.
A 4 rating would allow a person to live a mostly free existence, but they would have to check in with a government counselor on a weekly basis to make sure they aren’t doing anything that would make them slip into a 3 rating.
These people own above average items, but not the best of the best. They pride themselves on being better than the 3-rated people, but are always held back by not being able to reach a 5 rating.
Some have 5-rated friends, but they view them more as frenemies. They use this to their benefit. When in situations with lower rated people, they make sure to let others know they are high ranking and that they hang out with those who are rated 5.
They can use their connections and 4 rating status to gain better service and access, especially in a situation where someone like a store employee does not want to upset a 4 rating’s 5 rated friend. They can’t reach the top tier in society, and this holds them back mentally as they are often obsessed with gaining more.
Those with a 4 rating may travel anywhere in their country of origin and adjacent foreign countries twice a year. Their income is drastically lower than the top 5 percent, but they can still afford to live a lavish and extravagant life. They can afford luxury cars for themselves and their children and multiple story houses in gated communities. They oftentimes amass more wealth and continue to gain status.
Sometimes someone with a 5 rating can fall to a 4 rating. Fours are smart, but not as smart as the Einsteins. They have access to higher education, but are only accepted after those with a 5 rating.
Those with a 4 rating have had minor traffic violations and usually are not arrested for other crimes. People who achieve a 4 rating are viewed as people who are mostly content with what they have. They are perceived as people who are aware that their life is something to be grateful for, and they make the most of what they are given.
They are allowed to eat at 4 star restaurants, but only after 5 rated people have finished dining. These are people who are in the spotlight and have influence over others, but they aren’t necessarily as important as high ranking officials and leaders. Examples of 4s would be famous celebrities.
4 rated people can run for local and state elections. There are more advanced networking opportunities for these people. They have what they want, but have some limitations regarding what they can acquire.
They have nice cars and houses that are better than 3 rated people. They may exercise all of their constitutional rights except for the 2nd amendment. Others who have this rating include real estate agents who sell luxury properties, pilots, physical therapists, producers, directors, and psychologists.
They may own a maximum of three cars, trucks, or luxury vehicles, and can live in a home with a maximum of four stories, with pools and gardens. They have profitable jobs and can afford vacations that enable them to travel around the world.
They are perceived as having a stable family unit. Their net worth, or their parents’ net worth, must be over $1 million. Their thoughts are highly regarded, but weigh less than those with a 5 rating. Many of them achieve a 4 rating because of popularity. They sometimes drop to 3, 2 or 1 ratings after their popularity fades.
Those with a 4 rating have only been in a little trouble and are not usually watched or monitored by law enforcement. These people are the main inhabitants of neighborhoods that look like they were painted by Rockwell.
They have two-to-three story houses, a couple of cars, and no true fear about where bills are coming from. They work steady jobs, but the jobs pay enough that security is constant. Those with a four rating are close to happiness, and know what they need to get it, but cannot attain it.
People with this rating are perceived as OK people, who do charitable things twice a year, but some are only philanthropic because of social pressure. Some do not actually care about the lower rated people they are helping.
Individuals who receive a 3 rating live a comfortable lifestyle. They do not hold much power, but their voices can still have an impact on society if enough ban together. They are more restricted about the things they can do, but they may still own homes, cars, and other items that make life more convenient.
Many have graduated high school and have completed some college. They have access to neighborhoods that are safe and nice, but not nearly as nice as the people with 4 and 5 ratings.
Some are white collar workers, such as sales representatives or office workers; the remainder of government workers, such as labor workers or school teachers, military members and their families.
A 3 rated person who loses their job becomes a 2 or 1 rated person, so they desperately want to keep their jobs. Some are blue collar workers, such as site foremen or managers. This is the largest group due to the vast jobs it encompasses and the prevalence of people in the respective fields.
They have access to normal medical care, standard amenities, and have most rights and allowances for citizens. They sometimes purchase things, and some even lie about things to make themselves seem like they are a 4 rated person.
They are granted minimal, but some, interactions with 4s. They generally have not met a 5 rated person. They cannot use their rating or relationships to gain better service or access to services. They are always screened and questioned when buying things. They are always conscious of their rating and what it means in terms of items they may acquire or experiences they are allowed to have.
They can only eat at restaurants that are specifically for 3 rated people. If they are invited to a restaurant with a 4, they may eat there, but by invitation only from a 4. Restaurant owners have been known to treat 3s differently because they don’t want them to bring down their restaurant rating. They are sometimes abused and belittled by 4s, but maintain these friendships to acquire their hand-me-downs.
They may travel anywhere in the country, but not outside the country. They can afford a small family and may, sometimes, if they save enough money, buy cars for their teenage children. If there are two in the household, they don’t generally worry about paying the bills. If there is only one, money can be a challenge.
3 rated people are viewed as people who have average intelligence. However, those who demonstrate higher levels of intelligence may be selected to attend Ivy League and exclusive schools. But demonstrating your intelligence is tricky because it can result in a person’s termination by government leaders if they decide a person’s intelligence poses a threat to the rating system or society.
Those with a 3 rating are subject to more scrutiny under the law. They can be cited for major traffic violations, misdemeanors, DUIs, felonies and other crimes. This often results in a drop to a 2 rating. People with a 3 rating have usually received less than two major tickets and have had only one arrest.
Their homes have no more than four rooms, and they may not own more than two cars. They have access to regular restaurants and establishments, but are not allowed into premiere places.
They have every basic need, but not much more than that. They are viewed as often content with life. However, they can allow greed, feuds, and anger to play a role in their experiences.
A 3 rated person can become 4 rated if they marry someone with a 4 rating, but it is a risk because the 4 rated person’s rating may drop to 3. 3s can live in homes, but often live in apartments. They have restricted access to certain foods, but can gain access by volunteering and giving to charity.
They are viewed as nice people who are vulnerable to a rating drop. They are allowed to exercise all of their constitutional rights except for the 2nd, 4th and 5th Amendments. This means the police can come into their homes whenever they want, search it, and question them, and they HAVE to answer all of their questions without a lawyer. But they have the 7th Amendment right, so they may have a fair trial by jury.
These include flight attendants, police officers and firefighters. There are only certain jobs they can have. They may obtain higher level skills in technology, management, or education. When they travel by plane, they cannot sit in first class.
This group eats out when they can, but tends to save money by cooking at home. They have some free time and are usually not stressed about where they will find their next meal. Those who have a 3 rating have graduated high school and attended a state university. They are allowed to hold various jobs within society, but they are restricted to a lower level of pay than those with upper ratings.
They are allowed to vote. State schools and community colleges are their only options for schooling. Those in this category are allowed three infractions with the law. If they exceed that, they are demoted to a 2 rating. Their 3 rating can fluctuate depending on how much they participate in government elections.
People with this rating receive charitable contributions from those who have ratings 3-5. They try to make themselves better, but they need the help of people who have higher ratings.
Individuals who receive a 2 on the rating scale cannot afford luxuries. They may own one vehicle, and they live in apartment complexes. There are many restrictions about what they can and cannot do. They have very little power.
They have not graduated high school or only have their GED. They have access to grocery stores and cheap clothing stores. This level would include the remainder of the labor force, blue collar workers, people in low-level jobs, and people in entry-level jobs.
They have access to medical care, but must wait in line behind those with higher ratings. A typical 2 rating person is someone who makes just enough to pay the bills each month. They do not have any extra funds, or it is rare that they do. They dream about having what higher rated people have, but realize they will probably never achieve a 4 or 5 rating, so they don’t usually even consider having the privileges higher rated people have a possibility.
Their ratings may increase if they interact favorably with people who have higher ratings. They only see higher-end material items through these interactions. Their extreme lack of, or disinterest in, improved material items restricts them from being accepted in society.
Those with a 2 rating may travel to neighboring cities within 50 miles of where they were born twice a year, but they usually remain within the state. These include people who work in the fast food industry, waiters, cab drivers and other service workers.
They have access to community colleges. They do not have internet access or access to technology. They are heavily watched by law enforcement, and many have been charged with committing crimes.
A 3 rated person who commits a crime may become a 2 rated person with only certain service job options. They may live in apartments with a maximum of 2-3 rooms and own one vehicle. Many take public transportation.
Those with a 2 rating have access to limited establishments and are not allowed to eat at nicer establishments. However, they may work in them. People who have a 2 rating are viewed as more angry than happy. They are viewed as people who often allow the negative aspects of the world to take over their perspective on life. They are viewed as mean, bitter, and sometimes cruel.
No one in their family is wealthy, but they have met and know a few wealthy, elite people. They may have worked for them. But in social settings, they are generally not permitted to be near 5 rated people.
Many apply for government aid if they begin to slip from a 2 rating. They have almost no constitutional rights except for the 15th amendment, the right to vote regardless of race; the 19th amendment, the right to vote regardless of sex; and the 26th amendment, the right to vote if you’re over 18.
Those with a 1 rating cannot afford to do anything that they would like to do. They just do what they can do to get by. People receiving this score are viewed as the most selfish people of society. They are viewed as people who never do anything for others and pretend to need help just to get access to free items.
Individuals who receive a 1 on the rating scale are the poorest in the country. They are homeless, and many cannot get a job because of their low rating. They struggle to find money for food and clothing.
They have no voice or power in the country, because those with 5 and 4 ratings view these individuals as unfit. Those with 3 ratings help them more than any other group because they fear they could become them if their ratings drop.
They typically cannot find a job and have few assets. Healthcare for 1 rated people is difficult to obtain because they must wait for every rating above them to receive it first. They live in secured areas where they cannot affect the rest of society with their perceived greed, apathy, hate, etc.
They are likely wanderers. They have the clothes on their backs, no car or home. Whereas 2s are still accepted when servicing higher rated people, 1s are pushed to the outskirts of society.
Higher rankings do not even want to see them. 1s are refused services, from haircuts to restaurants. They are not allowed inside stores or on car lots. Those with a 1 rating may not travel outside the city in which they were born for any reason.
They are stuck, because it’s often impossible for them to dress well or travel efficiently to their jobs. They often lose jobs that would elevate their rating because of something out of their control.
They sometimes live with several other people to afford rent. Many are high school dropouts. Those with a 1 rating are monitored at all times by law enforcement using an implanted microchip. Sometimes, they steal in order to eat, but they are arrested. Those with multiple arrests are terminated.
The jails are filled with 1 rated people who have been convicted of a variety of crimes. They may only use public transportation, but are often refused this amenity. Bus drivers often drive right by them.
They may not own any cars or houses. They are often denied apartments. They are not allowed to enter any stores and establishments with the exceptions of grocery stores that only serve 1 rated people. These grocery stores are heavily policed with guards throughout the stores.
Because of their inability to rise, people who achieve a 1 rating are often clinically depressed or suffer from unaddressed mental health issues. They cannot receive help for these issues because of their inaccessibility to healthcare.
They are viewed as people who are negative and hopeless, and those with higher ratings believe it is impossible for them to be happy, positive or productive citizens.
No one in their family has ever been wealthy, and might never be, and they’ve never met any elite wealthy people. These people typically do not have children because they are taken from them and given to higher rated individuals who have 3-4 ratings. One and two rated people are perceived as unfit parents, and often are not allowed to keep their children. Some have been sterilized by the government. However, those with 5 ratings only adopt 5 rated children from other 5 rated people.
If they prove they are nice and are not a threat to higher rated people, they may receive government assistance. Some who prove this over time may be accepted into a service industry job training program in which they will eventually be granted a job that provides public service for 2s and 3s.
They usually eat leftovers and food that is donated to them in shelters. They have no constitutional rights. Their vehicle choices include bikes, buses, and sometimes used cars. They are not allowed to own new cars.
They may be lonely, and their families may not be present, because their parents, who had higher ratings, may have abandoned them so that the parents’ rating would not drop by association.
Many 1s have to fight other 1s for food, so they are sometimes malnourished. They hold little to no influence in society and are viewed as burdens. There has been talk lately about extinguishing all of the 1s. They are severely unhealthy and have a short life expectancy. They are left to fend for themselves. They are not allowed to vote.