FEAR ‘n CHEER

Penny Hunt's blog coffee conversationsA little blast from the past in the café again this morning.

A TV drama had been watched at the same time by everyone there. Just like the olden days.
The talk was of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror: White Christmas, a compelling, disturbing, yet plausible futuristic story that had been screened the night before. Plausible, because the technology involved is surely almost here already. Disturbing, because the casualness of ‘blocking’ and cloning each other seemed so heartless A– and yet horribly reasonable. Compelling, because Don Draper starred in the story. (And Rafe Spall)

Our spontaneous TV club found some cheer within the fear.
(Coffee is very good for optimism)

  • How energizing it was to play with dark thoughts and ideas in a Christmas setting.
    We all noted the makings of a rather fine new-year resolution: not trying to find
    sweetness and light all the time.
  • The future did not look a happy place in the story. All these incremental technology upgrades and improvements that we love so much will, little step by little step, lead to some horrible stuff if we’re not careful. But Mr Brooker had left a sliver of hope. Some moral questions were being asked, somenindependent thoughts were being thought, by everyday people living everyday lives even in this frightening future. Let’s hang on to that this week when parts of the world seem to have gone mad.
  • The blocker device. Imagine being able to effect a sort of immediate exile on anyone annoying you. People became vague fuzzy unreachable shapes when ‘blocked’ in Black Mirror. As we compared notes on the places we had worked that week, we realized that ‘blocking’ happens here and now pretty effectively without the help of any yet-to-be-invented gadgets. The Behavioural Psychologists call these behaviours ‘micro exclusions’ – the thousands of hard-to-identify ways we find not to acknowledge or include another person.

The impromptu drama critics were as one in their resolve. We would spot any blocking pattern wherever we worked, we would assume positive intent wherever we went, and we would look for the dark as well as the sweet.
And with that sense of achievement we wished each other – all – a very merry Christmas indeed.

John Hamm in Black Mirror.

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