My first reaction after watching Fifteen Million Merits was simply astonishment. Everything was an exaggeration of the impact technology has on our lives. The writer and director of this episode created the show is such a way that we felt sorry for the participants which implies it was not a perfect place; it is a dystopia. Some things made it obvious that it was a dystopia but certain elements such as the sounds and colors subtly steer us to believe it is a dystopia. What’s even more interesting is the symbolism to our own lives and the disturbing fact that we are getting closer to its reality.
The more obvious indications that it is a dystopia is the dissatisfaction by Bing of his mundane existence. There is also no individuality; they all wear the same plain grey clothing and live in the same size cubicle surrounded by screens and have the same job. The only individuality they can show is through their animated person which isn’t tangible or real.“ I love choosing my own clothing” the Hot Shot winner says. The cyclist all wore gray suits and their lives were surrounded by screens. They were required to watch an advertisement for Hot Shot, a show that is supposed to change their lives and not be cyclist anymore. Also, they were required to watch the pornographic Wraith Babes. These requirements tells us that the society believed that it's important for all citizens to have something to aspire to and to get off. They required it because they believed their citizens needed that. I feel that it also promoted the idea that the citizens should keep to themselves and not need anyone else to live a “good” life. We know it is mandatory because Bing incurs a penalty when he chooses to pass and if his eyes closed, an annoying beep would go off and voice saying to resume watching. There’s no escape from it. There are no friends or love in this society, everyone is to themselves and should have what they need to live.
So how does this relate to us? It is basically a warning to us to avoid complete reliance on technology. We are always looking at a screen; when we wake up we check our phones, throughout the day we work on a computer or tablet, and before bed we watch television. This episode pictures that “what if it was the only thing you did” literally. It makes fun of how attached we are to our phones, computers and television. It also exaggerates other aspects affected by technology such as social skills. Technology can be very useful but its dependence can impact us socially. For example, we engage in many social media and consider that socializing. Social media allows us to hide our personality behind a “black mirror” a screen so engulfing that we lose social skills altogether. It is as if you are telling the world that social skills are no longer needed and real friends are not important, only our avatar matters. The show takes that extreme and demonstrates a world without friends or lovers. Marriage and love is not even mentioned in the episode, only slightly hinted at to demonstrate the human instinct to love and care. Technology also brought many to have those nine to five, where we clock in and out where the employee doesn’t really know what bigger purpose they serve. They work just to pay for their daily needs. Those who have those jobs hope to get rich by the once in a lifetime opportunity.
Technology also affect our nutrition. In the episode, Bing says how all the food in the vending machine is processed which is symbolic to all the processed items we eat today. Everyday, we chose to eat all these processed foods. Producers respond to consumers “dollar votes”; if people are willing to buy then they will continue to produce it. The writer of this episode is basically saying be careful what you ask, or rather pay, for because it might come back to haunt you.We give our phone, laptop and television so much time and power that it might control us one day. The episode demonstrates what would happen if someone would actually take the power you give technology and it was definitely an eye opener. Our actions say something and our attachment to technology is as if we are begging for this dystopian society.