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Tips for Surviving as the World Turns into "Black Mirror"

The New Mini Cheetah Robots From MIT Are Just the Latest Sign

Footage of MIT's new Mini Cheetah robots doing backflips, moving in formation, and jumping out of hiding places set Twitter off with a fresh round of comparisons to the horrifying Black Mirror episode "Metalhead."

Similar comparisons seem to crop up any time MIT or Boston Dynamics releases new footage of their competing quadruped robots, but that doesn't mean that the comparisons aren't apt. Honestly, they could hardly be…apter. Look at the way they move! That faceless, predatory flow. They're nightmarish, no matter what their creators want us to believe.


Boston Dynamics' Spot robots


No, the parallels to Black Mirror are not in your head. Reality is slowly melting into that show, and we all need to be prepared for it. Here are some tips for surviving the awful future that show is inflicting on us.

Don't Slip Up

Bryce Dallas Howard in "Nosedive"

This is a recurring theme in episodes like "Crocodile," "Nosedive," "The Entire History of You," and "Shut up and Dance" Characters are swallowed up by the immutable record of events in a world where every moment is recorded and preserved. This obviously includes people being canceled for dredged-up old tweets, but it also covers the panopticon of corporate and government surveillance: the NSA is recording every phone call, Facebook is recording all your browsing, and those smart devices that make your life so much more convenient are also recording everything you say and everywhere you go. You cannot escape detection, so you might as well just behave. I would say something about George Orwell, but I don't know who might be reading this…

Don't Bother Fighting Back

Daniel Kaluuya in "Fifteen Million Merits"

You can't stop the coming change, and if you resist it, your efforts to change or break the system will just be absorbed by the system and used to make it even stronger. We can see this phenomenon in the Black Mirror episode "Fifteen Million Merits," in which Daniel Kaluuya goes to incredible lengths just to speak and be heard. To take over a platform where he can say what he really thinks about the crushing, alienating system he's trapped in, along with everyone else he knows.

And what he says when he finally has his chance is so raw, so impassioned and real…that the powers that be decide to give him a job placating the populace with his cathartic rants. Likewise, if you want to protest police violence, or homophobia, or environmental devastation, don't be surprised if the forces of the status quo latch onto the symbolic power of your protest and turn it into an advertisement.

Let Yourself Grieve

Domhnall Gleeson in "Be Right Back"

With all the holograms of dead musicians, AI chatbots that mimic dead loved ones, and the new movie starring "James Dean," it's easy to get confused and think that you don't really need to let go—that death isn't final. But the Black Mirror episode "Be Right Back," taught us the importance of moving on. Those simulations will never replace the people we're bound to lose as this futuristic sci-fi hell-world descends upon us. Domhnall Gleason cannot be replaced by a robot, no matter how good that robot's impression is! And that fake James Dean is definitely going to be off-putting and creepy.

Don't Piss Off the Robot Dogs

"Metalhead"

Have you seen that episode?! Have you seen the new video?! Those bastards are terrifying! F*ck the teddy bear! In fact, stay out of warehouses altogether. Better just to stay locked in your room, playing video games until your brain melts.

"Playtest"

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