My Favourite Black Mirror Episodes

I LOVE Black Mirror. I could go on and on for hours about this show. I’ll start by telling you a little bit about it.

Black Mirror is a Netflix series, classified as a “British science fiction anthology”. It takes on modern society, specifically technology and takes it to the extreme, often turning it darker and placing each episode in the future. Each episode is standalone, meaning they each have completely different characters, storylines and topics. The series has four seasons but just released that there will be a fifth one in the future.

The Black Mirror is said to be based on movies like “The Twilight Zone”, but without the need for censorship.  Each episode focuses on the human beings dependency on technology and what may happen if this dependency continues to grow.

The creator, Charlie Brooker explains: “If technology is a drug – and it does feel like a drug – then what, precisely, are the side effects? This area – between delight and discomfort – is where Black Mirror, my new drama series, is set. The ‘black mirror’ of the title is the one you’ll find on every wall, on every desk, in the palm of every hand: the cold, shiny screen of a TV, a monitor, a smartphone.”

Here are my Top Five Favourite MUST WATCH Episodes (SPOILER ALERT**):

1- Hang The DJ (Episode 4- Season 4)

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Of course, this episode is about dating (cue all of you rolling your eyes), but I think it has a great story and lesson behind it (and a happy ending, which a lot of episodes don’t have). This episode takes a look at dating using technology and right away will make you think about apps like Tinder and Bumble. The two main characters, Amy and Frank, are matched together right off the bat but find out via “the Coach” they only have 12 hours to spend together. Right away, you see the two of them click, joking and laughing with each other, but after the 12 hours are up they are forced to go their separate ways. Next, you watch as the two of them are matched with different people through the system, Frank is matched with a long relationship that he noticeably despises and Amy with a string of short flicks that she quickly gets sick of. Luckily, the two of them get matched together again. This time falling head over heels for each other. Frank breaks the rules of the system, causing their predetermined long-term relationship to be cut short. Again we watch as the two of them go from relationship to relationship, clearly unhappy and thinking about each other. In the end, Amy and Frank decide to rebel and be together against the system, and the two of them are zapped from this alter universe back to the real world. Did they end up together? I guess you’ll have to watch to find out. Regardless if they did or didn’t, this episode gave me hope that love still exists, despite this crazy world of cyber dating and hook-up culture.

2- Be Right Back (Episode 1, Series 2)

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This episode is devastating (in my opinion). This one plays on the idea of technology saving the memory of a lost one, but of course, takes it to the extreme. Now a day in our world, if someone passes away, you can look back on countless photos and videos of this person keeping the memory of them alive far past their death. In the world this episode creates, you are able to literally make an actual physical replica of the person that died. You quickly learn that in doing so, problems arise and this android version of your loved one may look and sound how you remember them, but they are missing pieces to them. To me, this episode is devastating because you watch someone try and hold on so tightly on to someone they loved, instead of focusing on healing and letting go of them. I am leaving a lot out, especially the corky, kind-of twisted ending, trying to make you all go and watch it because it is definitely worth it!

3- White Bear (Episode 2, Season 2)

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Okay, let’s get into some darker episodes. I made my sister and her boyfriend at the time, watch this episode because I thought it was so good. They were both creeped out by it, so I’m not sure if that says more about me and my weird addiction to scary movies and TV shows or about the Black Mirror.  This episode reminds me of “The Purge”, in a way. A women wakes-up, not knowing where she is, and quickly realizes the neighbours she’s surrounded by, are all taping and watching her. When she speaks to them, everyone ignores her and no one responds. She begins to be shot at by a gun and chased after by people called the “hunters’, which she finds out are being brainwashed by a signal. She sets out to find the transmitter of this so-called brainwashing signal but finds out the truth instead. She is trapped in the “White Bear Justice Park”, as a punishment for something she has done. Every day her memory is wiped clean and she is forced to relive this very same day, time and time again. People are able to come watch as they please, like a zoo, as this woman gets psychologically tortured. Hold on a second, before you start to feel bad for her, maybe find out what she did to get this punishment.
**Another episode that is quite similar and also worth watching is, “Shut Up and Dance”- Episode 3, Season 3. Like White Bear, this episode stays away from technology, which is sometimes refreshing when it comes to Black Mirror and focussing on the effects of blackmail.

4- Man Against Fire (Episode 5, Season 3)

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I read a lot of articles about the top Black Mirror episodes and this one was not mentioned in any of the articles I read and I was very surprised by this. I think this episode has an extremely meaningful message behind it (it is also quite frightening, which means I automatically liked it). I don’t want to give too much away, because I would love for you all to go watch this episode, but basically, it is based on the idea of soldiers fighting against mutated humans called “roaches” in a foreign country. The soldiers use implants, that enhance their senses and provides instant data to them. One soldier, Stripe, begins to have problems with his implant and starts to see the roaches, as humans.  Stripe then begins to start looking for his own answers. He finds out that the implants the soldiers are given may have an alternate reasoning behind them, such as: dehumanizing the enemy. Please watch this episode to help understand all the confusing information I just gave you. I think this episode is very relatable to not only our history but our present and most like future. The ending is equally as heartbreaking as the realization of what is happening in the extermination of the roaches.

5- Play Test (Episode 1, Season 3)

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This one was hard for me to chose, because I have a few other favourites that I could have easily put in this spot, but since this episode has been talked about a lot quite recently, I thought I had to include it. This is an episode that doesn’t need violence to scare you, the fact that it is so close to reality, is scary and uncomfortable enough. Play Test takes a play on how we allow people on social media to judge and rate us. In this episode, people have a rating out of five, which allows them to do or not do certain things in society. The perfect selfie, clothing and appearance, working out, what you’re eating, who you’re dating, hanging out with or even talking to are all things that can either up your rating or decrease it. The lower the rating, the fewer friends you have, jobs you’re applicable for and nice things you can have. The scariest thing about this episode is China is starting to use a rating system very similar to the one displayed in this episode. A company in China is giving out personal credit ratings using Alipay, which is the main mobile payment form used. Users are given ratings between 350, which is considered low, and 950, which is high. If you have a high rating, you are eligible for perks and rewards such as favourable terms on loans and being showcased on dating apps. If you had a low rating, you can only book lower class seating on slow trains and you must put down deposits for things that are usually given away for free. More can be found here on this new experimental rating system.

Honourable mentions:

San Junipero (Episode 4, Season 3)- This episode takes a break from technology, and takes a spin on the idea that there might be hope for people dealing with dementia or a kind of therapy for people with mental illnesses. A heaven-like world is created using your own happy thoughts and memories to help with current suffering. This one has a happy ending and is a good contrast to some of the more negative episodes.

Arkengel (Episode 2, Season 4)- This episode is based on helicopter parenting and what happens when it’s taken too far.

Crocodile (Episode 3, Season 4)- This episode is based on a troubled past of a woman, and what she’ll do to keep it hidden.

-Ash

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FOMO

The Fear of Missing Out, is one of our generations biggest upsets. It is the overcoming feeling that you are missing out on a being somewhere other than where you are or missing out on having something other than what you already have. It is the feeling that you are missing out on something in your life that would make it better.

Think about it.

We are constantly looking at pictures and videos of friends, family and other acquaintances doing things, subconsciously one-upping each other. The photos and videos we post online for all to see, are always from the times we are having the best time of our lives. Vacations and celebrations, filled with laughter and joy.

In no way, I am saying that we shouldn’t do this because I do it also. If you scroll through my Instagram feed, you will see pictures filled with a larger than life smile, bright colours and photos from all my proudest moments.

The point I am trying to make is we need to take a step back and stop comparing ourselves to others. We need to stop lusting over other people’s lives and make our own lives one to remember. We need to find a job that we love and enjoy going to. We need to put down our phones and enjoy the moment before it’s over. We need to put value in our friendships, instead of screen time. We need to realize our worth is not based on the number of likes we get or followers we have.

I want to challenge each of you to do something.

Every morning for a week, write down three things you hope that will happen that day. At the end of the day, I want you to write down three things you are grateful for, and one thing you wish you would have done that could have improved this day.

In doing this simple activity, you are doing three things. You are putting intentions into your day of what you want to happen and by doing this, you are setting yourself up to be successful because the thought is now in your head. The next thing you are doing is concentrating on the things you have to be grateful for or positive things that happened within your day, instead of the negatives.  I find we often (myself included) concentrate on the negative parts of our days, instead of the positive. Let’s change this mind set. Lastly, we are leaving room for improvement. No one is perfect and no day is ever perfect. By writing one thing we want to improve on, we are leaving room for growth and leaving space and acceptance for imperfections.

I think that this feeling of FOMO is one of biggest driving forces behind the anxiety I often get. I get stuck in the mindset that I need to constantly be doing something, posting something and talking to someone, to be successful day to day. If I can change my mindset and focus on what I am doing that very second, instead of concentrating on what I SHOULD be doing, or what I need to do next, I think I will take a huge weight off my shoulders.

I think social media is both a blessing and a curse on our society. We have access to more than ever before. But sometimes this transparency can do more damage than good.

-A

My Story is me.

Everyone has a story and your story is whatever you want to make it. Your story is what is important to you. It’s different situations and different circumstances. It’s battles that have been won and lost.  Your story is you.  My question is: is it important to tell your story?

I read in a book that by telling your story you are creating yourself.  Some people can’t feel like they’ve lived without telling their story.

This topic for me sparked when I was asked in one of my last ever university classes, what brought me to study sociology.  Luckily, I was very last, so I had lots of time to think about my story or alter what I was going to say depending on what other people were saying. By the time it got to me, my story had changed a lot then how I would have told it if I was first. Surprisingly, my story got longer and more in-depth as I listened to others people’s stories.

In my story, I talked a lot about being lost, not knowing what I wanted to do in my life, and stumbling upon studying sociology out of desperation.  I still stand true to this.  If sociology has done anything for me, it has taught me about life and about people. I analyze situations more and understand how and why people act or react in the ways they do. I understand pop culture and climate change, social structures and how each individual is shaped through experiences. I also have a better understanding of why people are the way they are and with this knowledge, I have been able to grow and excel in many different jobs and relationships.

I see a lot of people on social media criticizing others that talk about their past experiences or issues. People will often say they’re doing it for attention or the want for pity and even as I grow and share more about myself, I often feel that people think this about me. BUT, I have finally come to the point in my life that I no longer care what people think.  There will forever be people that are going to talk negatively about you, even if you’re the nicest person in the world. People love talking. People get jealous. People like to criticize anything out of the norm. And people hate change. That’s life.

I think transparency is extremely important for me. I used to say I thought it was important for everyone, but I remembered that not everyone wants to share their stories. For me, I think sharing my struggles, triumphs, losses, victories and everything in between in an important part of who I am. I like connecting with people in this way. I like being able to say: “Me too, I was there, I went through that too, I’ve also felt that”.. etc. I focus so much on this openness and find it to be important because as I was growing up, I felt multiple times like I was the only one. I felt alone with my thoughts and feelings and didn’t have anyone to connect to. I remember the first time I met someone who suffered through similar events as me and the extreme sense of comfort, understanding and release of emotion it gave me. I finally felt like I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t wrong in having the thoughts I did or doing the things I did in the past. If just one person stumbles upon this blog and feels that, then I feel like I’ve done something right.

If you are reading this, I want to remember a few things. You deserve to be happy. Don’t stop until you wake up each day and are excited to live your life. Your past doesn’t define you. Learn from it, and continue to grow and move on. You are not alone, no matter what the voice in your head tells you. People love and care about you, you are here for a reason, please go out and find that reason!

Lots of love and positive thoughts!
Ash

Motivation Monday!

I am currently writing my last final! I can’t wait to be done and be able to focus on reading and writing things that actually interest me!!

Here’s a 20 min. video on social media and our society. It’s truely a great listen and really makes you think about the amount of time we all spend on our phones!

Talk to you all soon!

-A

13 Reasons Why.. you need to watch this series right now!

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I’m usually not the kind of person who jumps on the train of the newest fads or watches the shows that everyone else is watching, but.. I broke my own rules and my goodness am I happy I did.  If you haven’t heard of the Netflix series, “13 Reasons Why”, stop what you’re doing, head over to Netflix, and check it out. It’s seriously life-changing and worth all the hype! I crushed the series in two days, and for once I can say it wasn’t a waste of my time.  Here are 13 reasons why I think everyone needs to watch this series at least once.  (ps, no spoilers included)*

  1. It really puts into perspective how your actions and words can affect another person’s life.  Calling someone fat, telling someone they’re stupid, slut shaming a girl; even though you may think these are just words, you never know what another person is going through and the harm these words can have on them.
  2. Rape.  A topic that is often pushed to the back of the closet, is brought out into the light and there is definitely no filter on it (which is exactly the way it should be).  This show gives it to you straight and doesn’t tippy-toe around the subject like other shows and movies do.  It shows how rape changes a person’s life forever. It’s not okay.  The series also depicts the rapist as someone you wouldn’t think would be one, and shows the consequence of this as well.
  3. There’s something in this show that everyone can relate to.  Whether you were the bully or bullied, you get to see both sides and it really makes you second guess your actions and will hopefully change the way you act towards and talk about other people.
  4. This show starts conversations. The number of people I have talked to about this show in the past week is insane, which is such a good thing. It’s starting conversations about hard topics, topics that are usually not talked about in public and that is such a beautiful thing. Yes, topics like rape, suicide, self-harm, child abuse, etc. are ugly and horrible, but they need to be talked about so teenagers and kids know that they are not the only ones going through these things.
  5. It helps adults who didn’t have the same technology we had growing up understand cyberbullying, and see how it can have such a huge impact on someone’s life. Social media is a huge part of our generation, and our parents who didn’t grow up in the same cyber infused world we did, now have an insight into what it’s like through this show.
  6. This series also shows teens, kids and anyone really that what you say and put on the internet is now there forever. The pictures you post, the things you write, are on display.  It also shows that Facebook, Instagram and other social media apps are filtered versions of people’s lives. Even by looking at all the pictures and posts a person puts online, you could still have no idea what’s going on in that person’s life.
  7. Teenagers don’t think the same way adults do.  This point was brought up in the “behind the scenes” episode.  Something that may seem small and insignificant to parents, teachers and other adults, could actually be something huge and trivial for a teenager.  This show helps people understand that sometimes the little things, could be the things that push a person over the tipping point.
  8. Slut shaming needs to stop.  Women are not objects or things.  Being sexy or attractive should not be the most important aspect or trait that a girl or women can possess.  Objectifying women, just opens the door for other people to do the same.  No teenage girl should ever be viewed in this way.  Calling a girl “easy” or “tight” or rating girls on a scale of 1-10, are things that need to stop.
  9. This show will make you reflect on your high school self, whether it was a couple months ago, 10 years ago or if you’re still in high school now. This series makes you think back on the things you did right and wrong and what you can do differently now.  It teaches you how you can learn from your past actions, teach others, start conversations and hopefully shape your future decisions.
  10. Teenager’s brains aren’t developed fully like adults and they aren’t always able to explain their feelings in words. All signs of depression or suicide should be taken seriously.  Dropping of grades, changes in personality, aggression, etc. are all signs that can often be overlooked.  Teenagers don’t always understand that the things they are feeling are treatable or can be helped. There are millions of options out there.
  11. I hope watching this series helps teens, kids and even adults know they are not alone.  Opening up, asking for help, or even offering your ear to someone in need can make a difference.  Looking back, I wish I would have.  I wish I would have understood the feelings I had did not make me broken, or unlikable. They made me human and it would have been perfectly fine for me to tell someone I needed help.
  12.  Another topic that is brought up in the “behind the scenes” episode is about being open about sex and sexuality between parents and children.  Teenagers need to learn about consent to understand what is okay and what is not okay.  Young boys should be taught to ask a girl, “do you want to have sex?”. If they can’t build up the nerve to simply ask that question and get a clear “yes”, then they shouldn’t be having sex in the first place.
  13. Personally, this show impacted me the most in the suicide episode.  Like the rape scenes, the series does not shy away from showing the main character, Hannah’s suicide.  This scene in the show is absolutely unbearable and uncomfortable to watch.  Going through high school, I was very depressed and more than once thought about ending my life.  Watching this episode showed me so many things.  Its rawness took away the “easiness” that I use to view suicide as.  Ending your own life may end the pain you are feeling at that exact moment, but you leave behind so many people that are now hurting in your absence.  Suicide is not an easy way out. Suicide is forever. Suicide doesn’t only take your life, it takes someone’s sister’s life, someone’s daughter’s life, someone’s best friend’s life. Suicide should never be an option.

I hope this helps convince you to check out “13 Reasons Why”, and if it didn’t, hopefully, my reasons gave you a few things to think about.

It’s okay to not be okay. You won’t always feel the way you are feeling right now. People care about you even when you don’t think so. And you have an amazing future ahead of you. Keep pushing.

-Ash 🙂

Opinions

I read a quote the other day, and it talked about the need for alone time. The need to be by one’s self to refresh, digest and formulate opinions. In our society, we are constantly influenced by those around us, even when we think we aren’t. People’s opinions are constantly filling our heads through social media forms like, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, also through news sources on television and in the news paper and then there’s also advertisements that are pushed in front of our faces all the time. Everywhere we look, people are trying to convince us to think, act, and be a certain way.

Now more than ever alone time crucial to build our own thoughts and opinions. In this society, do you think it’s possible to build our own opinions without being influenced by those around us? With our cellphones being glued to our hands and thoughts always being pushed into our heads, the thought of unbiased opinions sounds like a hard concept to grasp.

I believe that in life there is never just one way to look at something, even though sometimes our society tries to convince us otherwise. I challenge each of you to form your own opinions on things. If something doesn’t seem right or correct to you, dare to think outside of the box. Sit in silence every once in a while. Let your thoughts form on their own. Decide if  you agree or disagree with what is being taught and told to you. It’s people in this world that choose to create their own ideas. thoughts and opinions that make a difference.  Remember though, to be open to all the opinions around you as well. If you are expecting people to be willing and open to your opinions, then you must treat their’s the same.

Have a great weekend loves!

Ash

 

Get to know me!

A little about me:
I am a 25-year-old, energetic, adventure lover.  I have been in school for far longer than I would like to admit, but will finally be graduating in 2017 with a major in Sociology and a minor in Psychology. Sociology is quite fascinating and not just an easy elective like people like to think. Studying it has really opened my eyes to why the world works the way it does. I consider myself an introverted extrovert, which I think would surprise a lot of people because most people know me as the girl with the big white teeth and the obnoxious laugh. I am a dance teacher, a member of the Rider Cheer Team and the co-coach of the U of R Dance Team.

Few things people don’t know about me:
-I will be applying to do an after degree in education.  It took me way too long to figure out that teaching and children were what I am passionate about, but I’m happy I got here!
-I am in recovery from an eating disorder.  I say in recovery instead of recovered because it is something I will probably struggle with for the rest of my life.  Unlike other mental illnesses like alcoholism or a drug addiction where the substance that is causing the issue can be eliminated from the person’s life, food cannot be.  I don’t like to talk about this, because I like the positive view that people have of me, and I never want something like this to distort that, but at the same time, I think it is important for me too because I want to be a role model.  I want people to understand that mental illness doesn’t mean you are broken, or unloveable or imperfect, it makes you a survivor, it makes you stronger and it makes you perfectly imperfect.
-I hope to one day write a book about my struggles in hope you inspire and encourage people to push through their struggles, and to know that anything they’re going through will only make them stronger in the end.

Thoughts on society’s concept of beauty:
I think society has created this unreachable concept of beauty, but I think our generation is doing a good job of changing it.  There are so many amazing people out there now a day, standing up against this mould that has been created.  I think beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, colours, ages, genders, races etc.  I think everyone is beautiful in their own way and it’s just sad that society can’t acknowledge this.  I think it’s so so so important to love yourself first, because if you love yourself, then there’s no way you’ll ever let society tell you you’re not good enough.

Most valuable lesson I’ve learnt so far:
I think the most important lesson I’ve learnt is to love yourself first. I spent way too many years trying to be someone I wasn’t, trying to be the person I thought I had to be to make people like me, but in reality if those people didn’t like me for who I truly was, then those people didn’t deserve to be part of my life anyway. I would love to get the years and the sleepless nights back of wishing I was someone else, and that I had a different life, because now that I’m finally happy with myself and with my life, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Advice for others:
Never ever ever ever ever let anyone tell you you’re not good enough or make you feel like you need to change. Each and every one of us is unique for a reason and each of us deserves to be surrounded by people who will accept and cherish this about us.

🙂

-Ash