Do We Really Get To Choose? Black Mirror Says No.

I was watching an older episode of Black Mirror (Season 1 Episode 2: “Fifteen Million Merits”), and I had some thoughts. I know the show is meant to represent what life could look like in the not-so-distant future, but this episode seemed to have some very present elements to it. It made me question whether I have ever had choice in my life. 

Hear me out.

The part I really want to highlight is right at the end (spoiler alert for those who haven't watched it yet). Bing had become a so called big shot, no longer needing to ride his stationary bike for points, instead he had his very own talk show where he discussed how the system was corrupt. Yes: I thought, you tell them Bing!

I was wrong.

Nothing had changed for Bing, well he had a nicer apartment and didn’t need to cycle, but nothing else of note. He was still alone, wearing the same grey uniform. He was still being controlled, and he might not have even known it. Isn't the illusion of control a funny thing? How do we know we are ever in control?

One very real example of our lack of control and choice that most of us have been through can be seen by the choice we make when we finish high school. For most of us: the choice is either go to work now or go to university now and go to work later. At the time, this might have been empowering, freedom we might have thought. But is it really any different to the choices we give children?

We can go to the park now, or in 5 minutes is something I remember being said a lot in my childhood. Yes, I remember thinking, choice, but looking back at it, the idea that this gives choice is laughable. In the same sense; Bing had the choice of being controlled in his old life, in his small apartment, spending the rest of his days cycling, or being controlled in his larger apartment, where he could give people the illusion of empowerment, holding a shard of glass by his neck and selling his dampened thoughts on how desperately ruined society had become.

I wonder if we will ever know if the choices we made were ever done so on our own account…