Nosedive is set in a world where social status is dictated by the ratings that individuals receive from their friends, family members and strangers. After every interaction, each person rates the other on a five-star scale. Individuals use their phones to rate each other, and they wear contact lenses that allow them to see everyone else’s ranking and profile in real time. The episode centers around Lacie Pound, who would like to increase her 4.2 ranking because there are special privileges that come with higher rankings. Those above a 4.5 are awarded a 20 percent discount at the apartment complex where Lacie hopes to move, and an increase in rankings comes with other social perks such as express lines in the airport and elsewhere. She meets with an expert in personal rankings, and he explains that she can increase her ranking in a short period of time by receiving favorable ratings from people with a 4.5 ranking or higher. When Lacie is asked to be the maid of honor for her friend with a 4.8 ranking, Naomi Blestow, she sees it as the perfect opportunity to increase her rating. Lacie’s seat on the plane is no longer available when she arrives at the airport, and her 4.1 ranking is not enough to allow her to book another seat on that flight. When she yells at the woman working the counter, she is punished by security with a temporary 1-point deduction on her rating and told all low rankings in the next 24 hours will have double the impact of a normal downvote. She is now a 3.1 and must find her way to the wedding. After renting a car and then later hitching a ride with people going to an event, Lacie is picked up by a truck driver, Susan. Susan explains that she was once a high 4 but decided to stop caring about her rating after her husband died of cancer because his bed at the hospital was given to someone with a higher ranking than his. Before Lacie makes it to the wedding, Naomi calls to tell her that she is now longer invited because her ranking has dropped to a 2.6. Lacie decides to crash the wedding in spite of Naomi, who explained that Lacie was only invited because she would look charitable for inviting someone of a lower ranking. Lacie gives an impassioned speech while intoxicated, and it is not received well by the audience. Her rating drops below a 1. She then is arrested for pulling a knife on the groom as he tries to put an end to her speech. In jail, her contact lenses are removed and her phone is taken from her. She screams profanities at the prisoner in the transparent glass cell across from her cell. They both speak freely, perhaps for the first time in their lives.
- Social ranking dictated by external sources – Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram allow users to interact with each other and in turn reinforce what is socially acceptable and what is not. This episode combines social media with everyday life, and there are real-world consequences to the character’s online profiles. In real life, people are demoted or fired for their posts on social media, but this does not happen to the extreme that it does in the episode. The combination of social media and reality does not seem to far off when you consider how our online presence influences our reality.
- Targeted advertising and courting – When Lacie is looking at the apartment, she views a hologram of a better version of herself. She then sees herself on the billboard while leaving the complex. This tailored ad is targeted directly to her. Similarly, websites now collect cookies of users and then show them specific advertisements on their websites. If you look at a product on Amazon and then jump onto Facebook, chances are you will see an add for the product you viewed. Do these targeted advertisements overstep personal privacy and manipulate consumers?
- Personal brand as a business – Some social media users have branded themselves in a way that allows them to profit from their social media presence. Influencers are paid to promote products because they have a certain number of Instagram followers who are all attracted to the aesthetic of that user. Similarly, individuals with a rating of 4.5 or higher receive a discount at Pelican Cove because they reflect positively on the complex and increase its rankings. Just as people are punished both in real life and in Nosedive for their online actions, they are also rewarded. The internet has created an additional space for people to create personal brands and then profit from those brands.
JOUR 325 says . . .
- Did Lacie become authentic by the conclusion of the episode? Are their repercussions to her actions?
- Do we asses people’s social ranking in real life based on their social media presence, almost at the characters in the episode do?
- When Lacie’s contacts were removed, she could see imperfections such as lint. Does the obsession with appearances and perfection prevent people from noticing everything in the world, both good and bad?
- Lacie curses throughout the episode. She curses to herself in the beginning, but curses at others by the end of the episode. Does this signal that she is being true to herself, and is this socially acceptable?
- When trying to balance authenticity and societal norms, should a breakdown like Lacie’s at the wedding be lauded or condemned?