One of the most popular TV series lately is “Black Mirror” on Netflix, which offers dark comedy and social satire of the near future in the digital age.
Episode One of the third season was called “Nosedive.” It tells the story of a young woman named Lacie who lives in a world where your social media ranking determines where you live, how you travel,what you eat and much more. Lacie’s social score is 4.2, but she needs a 4.5 ranking to afford the apartment of her dreams. Here’s a short trailer that gives you the idea.
Lacie goes to great lengths to improve her rating, including being excessively nice to total strangers and offering up high ratings to almost everyone she meets. The title of the episode tells you what happens to Lacie as the plot progresses.
Most viewers find the episode both funny and creepy, but assure themselves that it’s only fiction and would never happen in the real world. They’re wrong. It’s already happening.
I recently met with the marketing team for a top-secret super-car from Ford. The street version of the car costs $500,000, but even if you have the money Ford won’t sell it to you unless you have at least 25,000 followers on twitter or Facebook. There are very few copies of the car available and Ford wants to make sure they go to “influencers” on social media.
An even scarier trend is emerging in China, as described in this article. President Xi has proposed a new law that bans Chinese citizens from airplanes and trains if they have a bad “social credit” rating. Citizens accused of “misdeeds” are banned from public transportation for a year. The penalties apply to those who have failed to pay fines or are guilty of spreading “false information.”
Of course, it’s a short leap from spreading false information to merely having the wrong political views. It won’t be long before this system of social credit is more widespread in the United States and penalties are imposed for expressing politically incorrect views in public. Penalties might include loss of access to bank accounts and ATMs.
This trend is one more reason to keep some physical gold, silver and cash on hand. Use of those assets can’t be stopped by digital penalties.