Annotated Bibliography

Singh, Greg. “Recognition and the Image of Mastery as Themes In Black Mirror(Channel 4, 2011–Present): an Eco-Jungian Approach to ‘Always-on’ Culture.” International Journal of Jungian Studies, vol. 6, no. 2, Apr. 2014, pp. 120–132., doi:10.1080/19409052.2014.905968.

As an academic article that is focused directly on Black Mirror, this source will be a very valuable resource. It talks a lot about the episode Be Right Back as an extension of our “always on” culture that dictates a need to record and display everything that happens in our life on social media. It takes this further, saying we use social media as a mirror into “knowing we exist” and ultimately proving our identity to ourselves. This is brought to light in Be Right Back when the character Ash is brought back, he is creepy because he acts too perfectly. This is because he is based on the constructed social media version of himself, with the show putting emphasis on how these social media identities aren’t our real selves. The article is quite in depth with its Jungian interpretation because of its focus on the single episode of Black Mirror so it will be useful as a basis for a deep dive into how always on culture causes social disconnectedness through our propensity to represent ourselves inaccurately online.

 

Boren, Alex. “A Rhetorical of Black Mirror: Entertaining Reflections of Digital Technology’s Darker Effects.” Undergraduate Research Journal at University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, vol. 8, no. 1, Jan. 2015. http://ojs.uccs.edu/index.php/urj/article/view/181/123.

This article discusses how “always on” culture can be extended to increased control of the individual by those in power. In the episode Fifteen Million Merits, digital culture is literally always on. The characters can’t escape from being broadcasted to, exemplified in a scene where the main character can’t close his eyes or skip an ad for porn featuring his friend. This is a critique of how culture is always commodified and made into a business. The part we’re responsible for is that we allow this to occur by feeding our money into the biggest corporations that control what culture is. Even when the main character escapes the cycle by rebelling, those in power are able to make him give up his position by offering him an easy life. Therefore “A person can earn money only by conforming to the culture industry.” This aspect of always on culture that potentially reinforces fascist control of culture is an interesting discussion here.

 

Middleton, Catherine A. “Illusions of Balance and Control in an Always-on Environment: a Case Study of BlackBerry Users.” Continuum, vol. 21, no. 2, Aug. 2007, pp. 165–178., doi:10.1080/10304310701268695.

The inspiration of the article stems from the initial idea of Black Berry phones (but in our context all all smart phones) being liberating due to their always on nature. They give us more control of our daily lives in terms of planning and flexibility. On the flip side, being always on is talked about in the light of how these phones perpetuate the culture of having little say as a worker, in that you must always be available by phone for one. The ultimate discussion here is if a tool of ultimate efficiency causes us to micro-manage our lives to the point of always thinking of how we could be more efficient, thus robbing us of good moments outside of work. This relates to the concepts in black mirror episodes like Fifteen Million Merits quite directly in terms of living to work and media and culture never having an off switch. It’s useful in that it’s an academic study, giving perhaps more concrete conclusions than articles that simply discuss the concepts.

 

Turkle, Sherry. “Always On/ Always On You: The Tethered Self.” Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, by James E. Katz, MIT Press, 2008. http://sodacity.net/system/files/Sherry-Turkle_The-Tethered-Self.pdf.

A great line that starts this article is “I am wired into social existence through it.” The chapter revolves around a new version of the self, itself. This is referring to our lack of existence outside of our online identities. Since our connectedness doesn’t rely on physical boundaries, its no longer a pre-cursor that matters. Now what matters is the constant connection through the phone. For example, people have private conversations in public on the phone because the physical space isn’t what matters, it’s the digital connection. While not directly talked about in the article, there are strong thematic connections to the Be Right Back episode of Black Mirror. The character Martha may prefer to have the real version of Ash, but she is willing to settle for a false, entirely constructed version of him. This is an extension of our daily trade-off between physical and digital connection, and a critique on our settling for digital communication.

 

Sofie Steenhaut. “Between the Real and Simulated.” Ghent University Faculty of Political and Social Sciences. 2016-2017.  https://lib.ugent.be/fulltxt/RUG01/002/377/260/RUG01-002377260_2017_0001_AC.pdf

The article presents both sides of people who believe always on culture has gone too far (BM) and those that disagree with this. Points for the plus side include an assertion that offline culture is fetishized and has “always been a phantom”. To this point, there is discussion of the reverse of social disconnection, such as proof people can connect with those farther away, and with a wider array (gender, race, age) than they typically have the chance to in real life. This is discussed with the episode San Junipero and how an unlikely couple falls in love in the digital realm, where there are no physical barriers to meeting. While there is plenty of negatives discussed, I outlined the positives because this hasn’t been talked about as much in other articles and makes this piece more valuable.

 

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