In the last episode of the third season of Black Mirror (S03 E06)—“Hated in the Nation”—a hacker uses automated drone bees to kill off obnoxious people. The first to die is a provocative conservative pundit who mocks the disabled in her weekly column. The second is a narcissistic rapper who insists on “keepin’ it real”—even if that means bringing a nine-year-old fan to tears. The third is a drunken prankster who pisses off patriots by doing something akin to flag burning.
It’s called “The Game of Consequences” and pretty soon hundreds of thousands of anonymous citizens are playing. At the end of each day, whoever has the most #DeathTo mentions gets killed by the automated drone bees.
Although most of those targeted in the episode seem genuinely obnoxious, I couldn’t help but think of Socrates, the Athenian gadfly, getting sentenced to death, by his own people, for being an annoying guy who asks uncomfortable questions and brings up inconvenient facts. Can’t you hear the crowd chanting: “This is what democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like.”
If something like this happened, if we could somehow get rid of all of the mean people, would it lead to a better world? I doubt it, Facebook. I doubt it, Twitter. I doubt it, YouTube. Regardless, this is Black Mirror, so the story doesn’t end here. We soon realize that these obnoxious individuals aren’t the real targets of the hacker’s fury.
He’s actually trying to rid the world of all those anonymous citizens who participate in Twitter pile-ons, all those Facebook users who viciously attack those with whom they disagree (e.g., all of the progressives who participated in the online mobbing of the provocative, politically-incorrect journalist are killed, as well as all of the conservatives who participated in an equally nasty pile-on).
In other words, the hacker is trying to rid the world of people like you (well, some of you). In total, 387,036 people are killed by the automated drone bees. If something like this happened, would it lead to a better world? I doubt it. Would the world be a much better place if you stopped participating in these online mobs, and treated those with whom you disagree with more respect? Absolutely.