For some of you, the name Black Mirror may sound familiar. Some of you may have been a huge fan. But for some of you who hasn’t, black mirror is a Netflix original series which revolves around modern society and the unanticipated consequences of technology. Although most of the stories in the series are hypothetical, one, in particular, may perhaps become true.
Nosedive is the first episode in the third season of the show. It tells a story about a young woman who lives in a society where everyone is so obsessed with status. They live in a system where you can rate a person, may it be your friends, family, a taxi driver, a waitress (just anyone you meet) through an application on your cell phone. Likewise, anyone can rate you as well and those ratings will be based on your behavior. If you’re nice, friendly, and kind (even if you’re faking it), people would usually give you good ratings (5 being the highest and 1 being the lowest). The higher your rating, the higher social status, and privilege you can enjoy. Those privileges include having access to buy a house in an elite area, being granted credits to luxurious cars, getting the best seats in planes, and the list goes on. However, the lower your rating, the more downhill and a lot harder will your life be.
Just as if all that is not enough, another factor that affects your rating is the people you surround yourself with. When you hang out with people who have high ratings, it can boost your rating or maintain it in a high position. But, if your circle of friends is mostly in the lower class, your ratings may go down.
It may sound like a scary world, but this whole madness is already becoming true in China through an online credit system called Zhima Credit, created by Alipay (an online payment platform made by Alibaba). Zhima credit determines the creditworthiness of its users. Users will be given a score between 350 (low) and 950 (high) and this system is eerily similar to the story in Nosedive. paying back debts, buying certain goods, and surrounding yourself with people with high credits will give you a nice score. On the other hand, missing the deadline in paying your debts, having a criminal record, and hanging out with people who have low credits, will score you low.
People with high Zhima Credits will enjoy perks similar to those previously mentioned above. Those with low scores, however, will mean having to pay deposits to rent public bikes or umbrellas, being banned from most forms of travel/ could only book the lowest classes of seats on the slowest trains, being ineligible for large bank loans, and many more.
To be honest, I get why China is adopting this kind of system. The reality is that society is whether we like it or not, divided into classes. But then again, who are we to judge people whether they should be punished for the things that they have done in the past? Alternatively, is it fair to reward people for their wealth? What if people are born poor? Should they not be given a chance to move upwards? Moreover, generally faking kindness may become a common practice and you may leave your friends or even family for people with higher credits just to get higher scores.
By: Eva J