Imagine a world where everything you do is being rated on a scale from one to five. Everyone can judge your actions based on their interactions with you, from the stranger you met on the street, the barista from the local coffee shop, to the co-workers you greet during elevator talk. Each rating affects a person’s social status. This Black Mirror’s episode “Nosedive” is created as an uncanny thermometer to measure how absurd a society controlled by social platforms could be.
Directed by Joe Wright, “Nosedive,” shown on Netflix, portrays the possibility on how our obsessions towards tech and social media culture today might build up into horrors in the future. People are judged solely by their ratings. The main character Lacie Pound, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, is trying to please everyone to gain acceptance. She believes that her value is equivalent to her app rating.
Her aim is to manage the coveted rating of 4.5. This involves practicing smiles in the mirror, brandishing goodwill to everyone, posting fashionable photos for her timeline, brown nosing “prime influencers,” while rating others five stars with the hope that they rate her favorably back. This show disturbingly shines an uncomfortable spotlight on the ways we live now.
Let's be honest – we are already more than halfway there. We have like and dislike buttons, follow and unfollow, match and unmatch. Many are obsessed altering their lives to build online personas to seek validation from others' likes and comments. We create the image of ourselves we like to portray and project to others, one post at a time – whether it's through people snapchatting pictures of their food or pining hope for another 50 followers on Instagram.
We already can rate movies, hotels, apps, doctors, government agencies, and college professors online. Yelp’s reviews determine the success of one’s business. Airbnb guests can submit star ratings and written reviews. Not just the driver, but we as passengers also are being rated each time we take Lyft or Uber.
The problem with the rating system is evident. Leaving an unbiased and honest review is hard. Check Amazon.com for example. Most sellers are giving out their product for free in exchange for positive "fake reviews." Putting subjectivity aside, most people who leave reviews either really love or hate the subject.
“Rating systems have turned customers into unwitting and sometimes unwittingly ruthless middle managers,” wrote Josh Dzieza for The Verge. “Customers expect Ritz Carlton service at McDonald's prices.”
Today, customers are also being reviewed, which means sooner or later the rating system is going to apply to everyone.
Peeple, known as the “Yelp for humans,” caused Internet backlash in 2015. It is a rating platform that would let anyone post public reviews of their acquaintances, from exes to bosses. Users can be rated based on three categories: personal, professional, and romantic. Peeple wants “character to be a new form of currency.” Ironically, the application only received one star in its App Store’s reviews. It ended up raising fears in public shaming and harassment.
As a part of Black Mirror's marketing, Netflix launched RateMe.Social, where you can check your social media rating or rate others. I received a 3.8, which in the world of the show is frowned upon.
People are afraid of being marked down. I once got a bad Yelp review, and I was devastated all day. Now I admit that I force myself to smile in front of customers to avoid another one star.
If we don’t like something about someone, have we forgotten that we can just tell him or her nicely in person? Instead of fake smiling and leaving bad reviews online, just be lovingly honest. Also keep in mind that if we are receiving feedback, we should always be open to constructive criticism.
Perhaps ratings could be the dystopian way to control the world. But the real question is, can we still behave even if no one would rate us down? Perhaps we need to question what the right amount of rating others is.