There’s a thought that has been bugging me for quite some time now, and I realise that it is relevant for almost everyone today. I came across this video which I also did share on my Facebook timeline, primarily to drive home a message that everyone has conveyed to others, as well as to themselves at some point of time, but are eerily comfortable in leaving it unheard. Then someone in my friends list suggests me the episode Nosedive from the recently popular Netflix series Black Mirror, and I am tempted to watch it.
Long story short, this episode is about a futuristic world, in which any individual can “rate” any other individual on their phones, on a scale of 5 stars, depending on what they post on social media, or how they behave in day-to-day interactions. Not futuristic much? Of course not. You might think that only the “reactions” and “comments” on Facebook and Instagram have been replaced by “ratings”. Except that there’s a twist. These ratings that they have are serious. They decide upon your interpersonal relationships, whether you can buy the apartment of your choice or not, and even what facilities you can avail from the government and different business enterprises. If you slide down to a sufficiently low rating, you are ostracised, and might even get imprisoned. Now this is frightening.
Okay so the argument might be that an episode from a dystopian sci-fi show is not much of a cause for worry. I agree, it isn’t. But will you not agree that it has almost come to this? Of course we might never end up getting imprisoned because of not-so-enough hearts on our Instagram post, but what about the masks we all are wearing in the virtual world? Not all of us are dishonest, not even most of our posts are. But we have voluntarily opted to get sucked into the web of an alternate reality, where we crave for the approval of our fellow human beings like an addict craving for drugs. For some, it is just a way of communication, or to put forward their opinions on important matters. But for the unfortunate many, it is a means to assert their relevance in society – to point at themselves and let the whole world know what they are eating, wearing, where they are going, whom they are dating, and the list goes on.
Why is it unfortunate? What is the harm in this? Well, it is subtle but hardly something worth getting overlooked. Simply put, when you are giving the power of approval to other people, you are losing a little power yourself. Not that you aren’t proud of what you posted, but deep in your subconscious, it affects you whether people like it or not. It probably hasn’t come to this for most people yet, but very soon it might happen that all we would care about is impressing the outside world with our artificially decorated lives. All we would crave for is getting recognised – for the little good that we do instead of preserving its happiness safely in our own hearts, for our filtered photographs and concocted captions instead of the truths in our existence. We would be okay with being rated, and with rating others. We wouldn’t mind being judged based on our alternate reality, because we would think we deserve that judgement.
And that, my friend, would be dangerous.