I had been watching Black Mirror Season 3. All the episodes were like the dark side of design and technology. It reminds me of the previously required writing assignment from Sven: “The Evil of The Technology.”
In particular, the episode 1 “Nosedive” shocked me a lot, because the story is a quite relevant to my initial thinking of criticizing our quantified-self and obsession with numbers, but also people who are in the society at episode 1 were a kind of similar to the expected user groups for my thesis project.
Insecure office worker Lacie (Bryce Dallas Howard) lives in a happy, smiley, status-obsessed nightmare world. Her old friend Naomi (Alice Eve) is one of society’s elites — and Lacie may have found a way to join her …
In this so-called “a happy, smiley, status-obsessed nightmare world,” people’s status and qualities are defined and judged by numbers. People can get high rates when they post good – positive, attractive, health, appealing contents that show a good side of humanity while the behaviors look pretentious. But our humans are vulnerable, imperfect and sometimes vicious creatures. We also have the dark sides of our nature which make us real human – I think the weak sides within our humanity differentiate artificial intelligence with us. The moral principles ruled by numbers were all good for the society and even themselves. But as philosophers claim, we find it difficult to base rigorous morality and austere principles on the precept that we should give ourselves more care than anything else in the world. We are more inclined to see taking care of ourselves as immorality, as a means of escape from all possible rules. (Foucault, Michel. “Technologies of the Self.”, Edited by Luther H. Martin, Huck Gutman and Patrick H. Hutton, pp. 16-49. Univ. of Massachusets Press, 1988.)
I have been trying to enhance wellness in my life and making design products for people to maintain healthy lifestyles. I could see my user groups in the film which are represented by Naomi, a perfect woman with perfect body shape, who works out every day, eats all the healthy-organic foods to maintain a healthier lifestyle – which means a happy life in the creepy world. This makes me raise a question: what does even “the better self ” mean? It reminds me of the famous French philosopher Michel Foucault’s “technologies of the self.”
Since I came to New York, it’s still not familiar for me to always say “I am good”, “I am doing well” as responses to the most common question “how are you?” I sometimes feel it’s too pretentious while I like the innate positivity and morality in the Western culture. Doing good is not “always” good for our mental health. We sometimes subconsciously want to express our badass nature.
There are several reasons why “Know yourself” has obscured “Take care of yourself.” First, there has been a profound transformation in the moral principles of Western society. We find it difficult to base rigorous morality and austere tenets on the precept that we should give ourselves more care than anything else in the world. We are more inclined to see taking care of ourselves as immorality, as a means of escape from all possible rules. We inherit the tradition of Christian morality which makes self-renunciation the condition for salvation. To know oneself was paradoxically the way to self-renunciation.