I watched the first episode of the new Black Mirror season, “Nosedive,” which stars Bryce Dallas Howard as a young woman in the not too distant future where every facet of your life is rated by what others think of you on social media. Those who are pleasant and well-liked rate higher; those who don’t simper and cater to people get rated down. Every human transaction comes with a cost, in which you must rate the other person immediately with a click.
In the show, this leads to your privilege in society–whether you can book a certain airline, whether you can enter certain buildings or neighborhoods, what you can buy, and so on.
Of course, there are those who aren’t as interested in “the game,” like the character played by Cherry Jones. I love her characters in general, and this one was no different. No spoilers here, but in reflecting on the episode, I found certain parallels to my own life in recent months. And they totally negate the influence of social media.
I’ve been in my new Asheville home for four months, and it’s been an adjustment. In Pennsylvania, practicing as an attorney is considered quite a lofty profession–in our small county, “Attorney” is a title given to each of us. As in “Attorney Jones.” Like Bishop, or Mayor, or President. I always found it a little humbling, but still, it makes you somebody. Awesome, right?
Because that means even if you are running to Wal-Mart, you dress for the chance your clients will see you, or your colleagues, or even the judges. (Although, I noticed that we hardly ever saw the judges in public–they probably had this problem to the Nth degree!) I was never much for make-up anyway, but I know one colleague who would never go out without lipstick. Is it a horrible burden? No, of course not. But it does give me some sympathy for the actress/mom who needs some eggs and has to decide if all the hype will be worth running to the grocery.
With the ease of access to social media–as in practically everyone around you has a camera/video maker available to reveal any of your foibles to the world immediately, the risk of doing anything not considered proper for your position is high and could have real life repercussions, whether it should or not.
Since I’ve been here, though, I’ve been comfortably no one.
This means if I have to run to the Kwik E Mart with sandals and socks (God forbid!) I do. Or if the fibro and other chronic pain is bad enough, I confess I have gone to the local Ingles bra-less. The sweet Southern ladies might find it scandalous–but I don’t know them, and they don’t know me, and as lovely as they might be, I don’t have to worry about their opinion.
(That being said, if you see me on one of those People of Wal-Mart photo shaming walls, please quietly chuckle and then ignore me. I’ll be good with that.)
Sure, I can’t get the kind of service I used to with just a phone call. But I think it’s a good trade-off. I don’t need to be “somebody,” even with my insecurities. I can act on things I want to act on, state my opinions (and get jumped on for them like the average Jane), or even refrain from jumping on the popular bandwagons. I can just be me, doing what I can, day to day, with only myself as arbiter of how important I need to be. So far, it’s working for me. 🙂
What do you think? How much does what others are going to say about you regulate how you speak to or treat themor act where they can see you?