“Just be you, authentic gestures, that’s the key”(“Nosedive”, 15’02”)

Campbell (2009) speaks about our personal cyberinfrastructure. Lamb (2013), about the need to reconsider how content is produced. Suler (2004) warns us about the dangers of online disinhibition. And finally, Jenkins (2006) discusses how we can create a culture of participation via blogging.

What reading spoke to you most when you watched “Nosedive”, (“Black Mirror”, episode 1, season 3)?

References:

Gardner Campbell – “A Personal Cyberinfrastructure” (2009)

Brian Lamb – “The Bucket has a Hole in it, let’s plug it.” Abject Learning, Mar 7,                             2013.

John Suler – “The Online Disinhibition Effect.” (2004)

Henry Jenkins – Fans, Bloggers and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture                    (chapter “Blog This!”) (2006)

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10 thoughts on ““Just be you, authentic gestures, that’s the key”(“Nosedive”, 15’02”)

  1. Changed Cybernalities
    The episode Nosedive, of Black Mirror, reminds me of why I avoid some ‘friends’ on Facebook these days. Originally they were posting things that they were doing in their day-to-day lives, or things they were genuinely thinking about, prompted by the words: “today I am…” But around 2011, Facebook changed from a text-only wall format to posting capacities on a timeline, prompting customers with the words: “what’s on your mind?” The focus for many users changed too. Re-posted professionally crafted messages and videos constructed by corporate business’, celebrities, political activists or viral videos began to dominate. My ‘friends’ became all about gaining more friends and likes, using the polished material to draw attention to their own entrepreneurial endeavors, with excerpts and links to their blogs, podcasts and business pages. Comments centered around the warm fuzzy words and clichés of the professional posts, or bashing politicians comments, or on celebrity activities as though they knew them personally. It’s like my ‘friends’ disappeared as people and were replaced with cyber-savvy miners, able to extract attention for themselves from the attention-rich deposits deep inside the caverns of social media.

    What happened to change their cybernalities? John Suler, in “The Online Disinhibition Effect”, explains that life in cyber-space interrupts our self boundaries (Suler, 2004).

    According to Suler, people experience a variety of changes to self on-line, including loosening or tightening of inhibitions, anonymity (“you don’t know me”), invisibility (“you can’t see me”), and the ability to take emotional hit and runs without consequence (Suler). Perhaps my ‘friends’ became more dis-attached to who they started out being. He goes on to say that because our bodies and their senses are not part of social media interactions, it is not always clear what people know about each other (Ibid). Maybe this allowed my friends to construct their cybernalities based on the professionally crafted posts, rather than on their own words and thoughts.

    The girl in Black Mirror finally falls out of the approval-rating race, no longer caring about her cyber status. The scene at the end where she and a fellow inmate exchange insults is worth watching the episode for. Maybe there is hope for my ‘friends’, maybe someday they will stop working the cyber mine and resume the art of being people.

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  2. I was watching the “Nosedive” episode with from the sociological perspective of how societies can create social structures. Seeing how different “ranks” of people interacted with one another, and some how a person with a 4-star rating somehow appeared to have more value in society than a person with a 2-star rating. These rankings lead people to behave in a particular manner in order to maintain or boost their rating. Every action, expression of the face, or gesture is judged and connected to each person’s identity. In this environment there was no such thing as invisibility (Suler, 2004). The lack of invisibility dictated how people behaved toward one another. I also noticed that the interactions between characters were void of any emotion. There was areal sense of loneliness because every person was able to impact the star ratings of anyone they encountered. This story showed us an environment that was the polar opposite to the notion of dissociative anonymity because every action had a consequence that was connected to the person’s individual identity (2004).

    Lacie struggled with expressing her authentic self to the people around her, but was motivated to increase her score in order to secure a new house. The reputelligent agent told Lacie to improve her score by receiving up votes from “quality people”. She was counselled to “Just be you, authentic gestures, that’s the key” (Nosedive, 15’02”). Strangely enough, Google search rankings work in much the same way. Websites gain popularity and credibility by hosting links to other credible sites and Google is catches on when the links are over used or irrelevant. In the context of a blog this means that links need to be relevant to the content and used with discretion. When Lacie offers Bethany, the woman in the elevator, the “extra croissant” she sends Lacie a decreased rating after their hollow conversation. Her advisor insists that being genuine is the only way to increase the score. Lacie struggled to find the acceptance she so desperately wanted because she was molding herself to be the person she thought her society would accept. I suppose the lesson to take from this in writing our blogs is to be authentic and create content that we are genuinely interested in, not just what we think generate more readers, or popularity.

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  3. As John Suler states in his article “The Online Disinhibition Effect” with the aid of social media “people have the opportunity to separate their actions from their real world self and identity” meaning that they can essentially make themselves act and behave a completely different way than they would in real life. I found this to be true while watching “Nosedive”, (“Black Mirror”, episode 1, season 3). Within the first five minutes of the show the viewer watches as Lacie captions her photo of her morning coffee and biscuit as being “Heavenly” when in reality she doesn’t even actually eat the biscuit nor does she even enjoy her coffee. This is an example of what Suler suggests when he states that in the online world people can appear to be one way when in all reality they are not that way at all.

    While watching “Nosedive” Suler’s article definitely spoke to me the most. His arguments seemed to explain what was playing out in front of my eyes. For example, Suler states that “Online environments can stir uncertainty, frustration, and anxiety – even paranoia about the possible mishaps and calamities that may befall you if you venture into the wrong environment or connect with the wrong people. As a result, people sometimes proceed with hesitancy and caution.”, and this pairs perfectly with the actions of Lacie in “Nosedive.” Throughout the first ¾ of the show Lacie is constantly worried about how the people around her or the people online view her and she is second-guessing her actions the whole time. She is anxious to leave a positive impression on people she encounters, even though they are all mostly strangers to her, and in turn this often leaves her frustrated when she doesn’t receive the 5 star approval rating she so desperately strives to receive with every interaction she has. She is constantly paranoid that every action or even the tone of voice she uses towards others will affect her overall status rating that she completely manipulates herself to fit into the mold of what others want her to be like rather than who she actually is. As Suler describes, Lacie is altering her self boundary to fit in with a world so much that she isn’t even coherently aware of when she is being herself versus when she is not.

    Although some of Suler’s points make sense when delving into the world that Lacie lives in, it is also apparent that his views aren’t exactly in line with the world which Lacie resides. Suler suggests that social media allows people to have the power of invisibility by inevitably “giving people the courage to go places and do things that they otherwise wouldn’t”, however in “Nosedive” Lacie’s world doesn’t allow her the option of invisibility within reality. Her virtual world follows her around so much that even when she is stranded on the side of the road on her way to Port Moody, strangers can still monitor her online presence and interact with her even though she is only a random person they are seeing for the first time. Whereas Suler’s world, our reality, allows us to log on to different social media platforms and take on the persona of whomever we choose, wherein Lacie’s persona is hers and hers only.

    With every passing year social media draws more people in from all demographics with its everchanging additions and enticing features. It is easy to get caught up in these digital worlds like we see Lacie doing for most of the episode. However, I think there comes a point for everyone, or most people, when they need to take a step back, disconnect, and reevaluate their priorities. Is staring at a digital screen really more important than face-to-face human interactions? We may laugh at the world that is represented in “Nosedive” because it seems absurd and over the top but if we look around, aren’t we becoming as absorbed and obsessed with our online presences as well? Maybe not to the extent of Lacie, but if people don’t realize the life passing them by when they are disengaging with their surroundings to focus and zoom in on what’s on the screens in front of their eyes, it may not be long until our world slowly starts to morph into the world Lacie from “Nosedive” lives in.

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  4. While watching Nosedive the issues brought up by Suler were at the forefront of my mind some of the online disinhibition effects are exemplified. The effects that are shown as Suler described are See It’s All in My Head (solipsistic introjection) and Personality Variables.
    • It’s All in My Head (solipsistic introjection) – “Cyberspace is a stage and we are merely players” this rings true throughout the episode as everyone except Lacie’s brother Ryan and the ex-convict Susan conduct their entire lives to increase their ratings. Suler also states that that characters “become more elaborate and “real” within our minds” when we see and interact with them online. I believe this may have been the case with Lacie and Naomi’s relationship, Lacie reflects on their interactions through rose colored glasses as she believes that being the maid of honor will get her the prestigious status that she craves however, when she finally gets to the wedding she has given up all hope and finally speaks about their relationship truthfully.
    • Personality Variables – “Compulsive people are more restrained” I can see this within Lacie, she understates her opinions to be viewed as pleasant, practices smiling, agonizes over posts, anxiously awaits ratings from service workers.

    The other disinhibition effects are in contrast to the way Suler describes that is probably because of the satirical nature of the episode. The most prominent deviations to the disinhibition effects as Suler presents them are:
    • See You Later (asynchronicity) – The hit and run effect that we experience online are not so in the episode of Black Mirror. In the episode responses are instant and too often in Lacie’s case unpleasant, but she tries to minimize her reactions to remain in other people’s good graces. It is a mutation of the see you later effect, people say what they like without fearing backlash because of the intense need for acceptance.
    • We’re Equals (minimizing authority) – Clearly in the episode not everyone is equal a person’s entire life revolves around an online rating system.
    • True Self – “Some people do report being more like their true self in cyberspace”. In the episode of Black Mirror very few are their true self, the need for acceptance and ratings create a world of uniformity. Lacie’s brother Ryan and Susan the truck driver were the only people who acted of their own accord.
    • It’s Just a Game (dissociative imagination) – “Separate and apart from the demands and responsibilities of the real world” the game became the real world in the alternate reality created in this episode. Lacie escaped the confines created by the social governance system when she was able to speak freely at Naomi’s wedding and when she was insulting the other prisoner.

    This was a very interesting episode which got me to thinking about the way we use social media and how it is becoming a social ranking system, how our need for external validation has negative repercussions on our actual human relationships. It is a scary world that they exist in, how far are we from that?

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  5. I also wanted to comment briefly on Gardner Campbell’s piece “a personal cyberinfrastructure” I think the implications of this piece on higher education are very important. The education system does need to change and adapt to new technologies, we are using a system created hundreds of years ago to educate the (elite) minority, it is outdated and stifles creative thinking. Gardner states that “faculty could bring students into these environments without fear that they would be embarrassed by their lack of skill or challenged by students’ unfamiliar innovations” too often change is met with resistance in many educational institutions, even MIT as we saw in last week’s reading. The unfortunate thing is that is not educators that suffer immediately it is the ill prepared student that these institutions produce. “Schools have become bureaucratic administrative machines producing identical people for a system that no longer exists” – Sugata Mitra, Ted Talk on education called Build a School in the Cloud.

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  6. In this reply I will start off by providing a brief summary of my thoughts of the episode and how it relates to my opinion of social media in our society, followed by some examples from John Sulers “The Disinhibition effect” with personal insight to reinforce each example.

    Wow, what a interesting episode. Ever since social media became a staple in our society, I, being a introverted, privacy driven individual, avoided the need to surround myself with acceptance and approval from those digitally. I have seen it first hand how social media slowly manipulates people into believing online acceptance is a vital part of being a successful human in this world, and me seeing it first hand, it is quite depressing.

    One of the first examples I will discuss is the “see you later” mentality

    While a majority of the feedback Lacie received was instant, you could tell that this routine had caused Lacy to become paranoid at any delay of gratification. An example being after calling Naomi while driving to the wedding, as soon as the call was finished, she “had” to rate Naomi five stars, and became instantly anxious awaiting a reply, even though only 10 or so seconds had past. What I am trying to get at is, due to our instant gratification from online sources, we are becoming more emotional effected by “see you later” mentalities, and fail to understand the need in some situations for a per longed time period before replying, or that others may be occupied with real responsibilities, and this mindset causes unneeded negativity and stress in our lives.

    Additionally, the “true self” question in the article.

    the article states that “some people report being more like their true selves in cyberspace”

    while I do agree, that in some non-fictional cases, it does give individuals the opportunity to open up, that was not the case in this episode.

    Lacie, and most others, were OBSESSED with their perceived importance from others, and were willing do to almost anything (fake or not) to gain public gratification. One example was Lacie buying a additional baked good in order to lie to another person that she “got a extra” so that she could sucked up to this “important” person, gaining valuable ranking points. Additionally, Lacie started making cooking dishes she has never even eaten before, and changed her tone and opinions, solely to gain positive influence from a “friend” (Naomi) that had cause verbal and emotional harm to her previously.

    As I previously stated, there are benefits to the ability to be ones true self online, but this episode highlighted the detrimental effects online interactions have when emotionally influences individuals are forced to choose between being ones self, and being accepted by those who are deemed “important” to them.

    Finally, “personality variables”

    Suler states that “The strength of underlying feelings, needs, and drive level has a big influence on how people behave. Personalities also vary greatly in the strength of defense mechanism and tendencies towards inhibition or expression.”

    Lacies brother showcased how much she had changed from this ranking system. Lacie felt a need to be polite to everyone, regardless of how she was treated (example, unhelpful, rude charger attendant. Rather then voice her opinion on his unacceptable service, she gives him five stars and treats him kindly, even after he rates her poorly. Additionally, she accepts the inclusion of struggling co-worker from her workplace, even though she wants to help him and know what she is doing is wrong. Finally, when dealing with the air attendant. It was warranted for her to be angry, you think with all this instant communication, the airplane could provide some adequate notice of a flight cancellation, but Lacie cannot talk with the supervisor, she was not even aloud to complain or raise her voice, use swear words, because this was deemed unacceptable by the public, regardless of situation or blame.

    People in this environment thought they had freedom to communicate, but in reality they were censored and sedated by their environment. Prisoners of accepted principles and unable to be unique or different. A sad reality if you ask me.

    In conclusion, while this episode provides a exaggerated reality of our reliance on online acceptance, it was insightful to gain a perspective on the reality some of our society is slowly accepting, and if we do not become consciously aware, we may soon be provided a similar fate of those in this episode.

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  7. In the nosedive episode, the character Lacie has to get a 4.5 rating in order to achieve her goal. She set up a meeting with a cyber success coach to determine a plan on how she can get to her desired rating. The cyber coach tells her to, “just be herself,” through authentic gestures. After the coach is gone she posts a picture of a raggedy bear.
    She stares at her phone awaiting a response for ratings. This at first causes her some anxiety. Once a response comes in she realizes that it was one of her old childhood friends and it turns out she has a near 5 rating. The approval of her friend boosts her own rating.
    Lacie’s old friend gets a hold of her and asks Lacie to be her bridesmaid. Lacie accepts and believes that this is her chance to boost her rating more. She starts to reminisce about her childhood friend through rose coloured glasses, as Suler notes in his psychology of cyberspace: “The online companion now becomes a character within our intrapsychic world, a character that is shaped partly by how the person actually presents him or herself via text communication, but also by our expectations, wishes, and needs” (Suler 2004). Lacie has not been around her childhood friend for many years, so she constructs, exactly what Suler is talking about, a friend that will fulfill her expectations, wishes, and her need for a higher rating. Lacie’s image in her mind is based off what she knew of her friend in her early years.
    The more interaction that Lacie has with her friend, the more impossible expectations are placed on Lacie by her friend. Throughout her journey and the treatment of her friend Lacie shows a fake persona of herself to her childhood friend. She does the opposite disinhibition and inhibits herself on any media feed or communication with her friend. Contrary to how she portrays herself through media her disinhibited self-shows more on the outside through her human to human communication. This then leads her to lose more of her ratings until she does not even have a high enough rating to get into her friend’s wedding.
    Once she has made it to her friend’s wedding, and after she has met somebody who has found it easier to live life outside of ratings, she gives her bridesmaid speech and lets her perceived childhood know exactly what she thinks about her.

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  8. It was very interesting to see how the episode “Nosedive” tied into Schuler’s theories. The first taste of inauthenticity we get is when Lacie posts a wonderful about he coffee and cookie, and yet we see her take one bite and the real taste of the snack becomes evident. Throughout the episode we see Lacie fight to be liked by this fictitious community, sacrificing herself to play this role she has created online. Schuler discusses how the distinction between our inner selves and our outer selves can become lost, and this is quite evident with Lacie.

    Schuler also discusses how through dissociative anonymity we can cross boundaries online that we couldn’t in face to face transactions. Although the world of Nosedive makes it impossible for one to be disassociated with their online presence, it makes it very easy to not think of how your actions affect online affect those around you. Lacie refuses to deal with the pain she causes someone when she gives them a low rating, and those around her that give her low ratings refuse to acknowledge what that does to her as well.

    The cautions of “Nosedive” are truly felt in today’s society. We all know, or at least know of, people whose online identities seem to be more important than their real ones. It is very easy to be removed from the screen, but we are not dealing with beings of make-believe when we are online. Through any façade is still a person. It has become far to easy to forget that fact.

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  9. The reading that spoke to me the most as I watch the Nosedive episode of Black Mirror was the John Suler article “The Online Disinhibition Effect.” The episode had good examples of some of the different factors of disinhibition that are outlined in the Suler article. The main one that sticks out for me is “true self”. In the episode, the councilor tells her to be authentic and people will come. She uses her stuffed toy to get people to like her. However, when she gets kicked out of the airport I feel like she was being more authentic at that point then she had been the entire episode. Her true emotions came out. Instead of just trying to look happy so everyone will like her she says what she really feels and this makes people hate her (kind of ironic) but it reminds me of the quote from John’s article “does the disinhibition effect release inner needs, emotions, and attributes that dwell beneath surface personality presentations? Does it reveal your “true self.”? For example, a woman with repressed anger unleashes her hostility online, thereby showing others how she really feels.”. I think this is a good point I know personally when I hold in my emotions for a long period of time it usually comes out at an inconvenient time and is sometimes targeted at the wrong people.
    I brought it up in class the other day but I think its worth mentioning again that China is planning on proposed using a social credit system. It plans on “assign a “social credit” rating to every citizen based on government data regarding their economic and social status… focuses on credit in four areas, including administrative affairs, commercial activities, social behavior, and the judicial system.” ( Xinhuanet, 2016). The article also goes on to say that the Chinese government could use citizens’ online data to help determine this number. I wonder what our social credit scores would be if we had this implemented in Canada. Would our social media persona negatively affect us?

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  10. This episode deals with the issues surrounding the true self and the person we present online. Like every episode, the extreme version of this issue is presented, however it is clear what the creators are trying to convey. Expressing your true self online is hard to do. This course has challenged me to type out my thoughts, and post them into the online world for others to see and judge. Knowing that my friends and family will see a side of me that they did not know is concerning, because up until this semester I have taken a very conservative approach to my online persona. This episode deals with that inner struggle I personally face when sharing online. Keeping up to date with the social norms seems to be vital to being “successful” online, and straying from that norm can have disastrous effects. However, finding a way to present as much of your true self online as you can seems like a healthy way to use digital media. This episode did have a happy ending, which I personally think held back the power of the message they were trying to convey. I think a bleaker ending would have suited the story better.

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