It is pretty normal nowadays to rate every product or service we receive. There are countless apps that enable you to rate your experience – everything from a hotel or restaurant to the products we buy online. Being able to rate these different products and services can be really helpful, as they enable others to decide if they want to spend their money or time there.
But, what if we could do that with people? What if we could rate people on how they treated us, or how the conversation went with them and then other people could see that rating?
It sounds pretty horrific, doesn’t it? Our every action being monitored and then rated by others. But in the recent show Black Mirror, this is exactly the world we are plunged into.
The episode, Nosedive, holds up a stark dystopian mirror to our social media obsessed world, where everyone has a rating and can rate others out of 5 stars. To start with, it’s almost comical, we gently laugh at how similar it is to our social media activities. But, it quickly turns sour as we follow the character Lacie, trying and failing to increase her social status. We begin to notice the fake smiles, awkward conversations and constant comparing to other people.
In this world, if anyone ranks below 3.5 stars, they can become socially excluded, unable to use certain transport or enter certain buildings. Suddenly, what people think of you not only matters for your self-esteem, but it dictates what you can and can’t do in life.
This was uncomfortable viewing. It felt so close to the bone.
Although we don’t live in a world where our lives are based upon a 5-star rating, we do often seek value from how people respond to us online. Filling our Facebook feeds with pictures and statuses that seek to appease our desire to be liked. As our lives become more digitalised, our identity becomes increasingly wrapped in our online activity and, like Lacie, we can start to play the comparison game.
But, it’s a dangerous game to play, mostly because what we see online is the best of people. Not many people put up pictures of the vulnerable moments in the day where they feel inadequate. Instead, we put up our best moments, where we get adorned with likes and comments, creating a feeling of acceptance or rejection if we don’t achieve the desired amount of interaction.
Yet, deep down, we know that our identity and purpose cannot come from these pixelated likes and followers.
Like Lacie in Nosedive, we soon find out that they never truly satisfy. Instead we see that her most authentic moment, where she creates a real connection, was when she was having a face to face conversation. There were no likes, no ratings, no worrying about her popularity. It was the one moment where we saw her truly free and real.
And this is what matters for us too. Away from the black mirror, being able to share fellowship around the table, being honest about our thoughts and feelings while meeting other people in our brokenness. It’s messy, it’s scary and it’s vulnerable.