Black Mirror Guest Post- Matt Mariglia

Matt Mariglia was supposed to be a part of our Black Mirror Educator Support Group Session.  Unfortunately, due to some tech issues he was late to our group.  Matt's insights are so valuable to the support group, so I asked him to send me his thoughts as an extra segment.  Must read!.

Video of Support Group Session:  HERE
Support Group Shownotes:  HERE

As a part of #CWAG’s Black Mirror Support Group (I call it the BMSG) with Andy, Jen Murphy & Heather Krieger, we recently discussed the episode in season three called Shut Up and Dance.  The basic story is of a young man named Kenny whose life is riddled with many of the problems a young man might have.  He’s bullied by workmates, has a single mom who is interested more in her social life than her children, and he himself  lacks plenty of self confidence. But with Shut Up and Dance, and any Black Mirror episode, the seemingly understandable story can get flipped on its head.  Without me giving away all of the episode, we find that it’s Kenny’s connection to the outside world via his phone & laptop are what eventually cause his life to come unraveled.  And come unraveled it does when his worst fears are realized through these connections. What the episode forces us to address is that our connection to the outside world for most of us (especially for younger generations) is through the internet & mobile devices.  Our connections to the outside world have changed dramatically in the past 30 years. Is this newer connection to the outside world come at a cost?

Back in the day (1980s & before) parents could easily keep their children away from elements of society that they deemed to be inappropriate or unsafe.  The way they did this was to keep them “in the house”. Sneaking out of the house into the world was a common rebellious behavior for pre-internet children.  Keeping the child in the house severed their connection to the outside world and to experiences that might get themselves in trouble. That parenting technique does not work anymore.  Connections to the outside world are easily available to us all from the privacy of our own homes. Locking a kid in their room might be exactly what they want! Teenagers like Kenny in Shut Up and Dance, not to mention adults, can connect to all aspects of society using the internet including ones that promote & participate in deviant behavior.  This behavior can easily be exposed through hacking and the capturing of webcams and mobile photos on social media. (See this article from Make Use Of that talks about webcam hacking).   For Kenny in Shut Up and Dance, and his counterparts, their connection to the outside world not only exposed their deviant behavior, but cost them any shot at a normal life.  So the question for all of us is pretty simple: do our connections to the outside world via the internet & social media have the potential to cost us a shot at a happy & healthy life?  Our answers, and the answers of the younger generations, will play a large part in whether the way the use of technology is shown throughout the series Black Mirror will come to fruition in the future.