A Place where Technology Controls Life

Easy Romance Imagine having to live in a place where the majority of your life is controlled by technology, not that it isn’t already, but that it is so advanced that even your romantic interactions are preset and monitored by a machine that determines who is the one for you. That’s basically the setting in the Black Mirror episode Hang the DJ where “everything happens for a reason”. An alternate universe where the love lives of two characters, Frank and Amy, are just part of a database that functions to find their perfect match and eventually learn that it was all just a simulation.

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The idea of no longer having control of my romantic encounters is unsettling because my life won’t be my own anymore and all the decisions I make could just become data for a seemingly flawless system. When I think of the word ‘romance’, I usually think of going on a date to a fancy restaurant where the lights are dim with soft jazz music playing in the background and the overpriced food that comes in small portions, but the idea is spending time with the person of my choosing and determine whether or not he would be an ideal partner to spend the rest of my life with.

This is a similar set up to the first scene of the episode where Frank and Amy go on their first date. Frank is going to meet Amy in a restaurant that has everything already picked out: the reserved booth, a dimly lit lamp, their dinner served automatically, the subtle music in the background, even matching outfits- Amy in a navy blue dress and Frank in a navy dress shirt with a black blazer.

All very classy. Everything is already set to create a romantic ambiance with the intention for couples to be attracted to each other and no one has to actually any actual effort to their date besides looking presentable and actually showing up to the date itself; a pattern that seems to be repeated throughout the entire restaurant. A fire could burst in the kitchen and all that would matter is that the person sitting across from you is funny and can continue a conversation. T

his scenario sounds like an advertisement for a more glorified version of Tinder that actually sets up the perfect date and “uses the gathered data [from multiple encounters] to eventually select an ultimate compatible other”. Sounds almost too good to be true. I call it an advertisement because, like many ads, there is a catch. For each meeting, there’s a time limit to be with this assigned partner, which could vary from a couple hours to a couple of years. Can you imagine being in a forced contract relationship with someone you’ve just met for an entire year?

It’s like committing to marriage with a total stranger. I would hate going on a date to meet someone for the first time and finding out I’m forced to spend two years of my life with them as my partner. The night of my prom thankfully lasted only 4 hours and that alone felt like an eternity because there were many instances where I was the one pushing him to dance and take pictures and the air became tense with awkward silence. He is a sweet person and all but I know he and I wouldn’t be a match to spend our lives together.

As much as I appreciate my date to have asked me to spend that memorable night with him, I’m glad it was only one night and not three hundred and sixty-five. Unfortunately for Frank and Nicola, the result was exactly the opposite. As soon as they met, it was clear that no chemistry existed between them besides eventual distaste for each other, and it was more clear during their scene of intimacy where Nicola expresses Frank’s motions as “tikka masala”- referring to Frank’s joke in an attempt to ease the tension during their first date. To be placed in a pairing like this would seem very annoying to have to endure for a whole day, let alone for a whole year when it’s evident that there is no future in that relationship.

Though there is no required commitment, this method of dating in Black Mirror is similar to the method we know as ‘speed-dating’ which Wray Herbert analyzes in his article Changing the Dating Game, where an actual speed-dating experiment is explored by psychologists Eli J. Finkel and Paul W. Eastwick. They tested the hypothesis that “physically approaching someone might be enough to make the potential date more appealing romantically” to which they found that participants had more self-confidence in themselves because they were constantly moving from one partner to the next and not just sitting at a table nervously thinking how the other person was judging them.

If one clicked with a specific person, then a traditional date could be requested. Romance is already exhausting as it is, trying to balance my life both as a student and as someone who wants to have the romantic experiences as everyone else my age. Maybe a more advanced method of speed-dating, or advanced data system like the one shown in Black Mirror, could be the closest type of dating system to actually complete its purpose of pairing everyone with their ultimate significant other; a couple flaws could be tweaked, like the dating system should remove expiration dates but continue to log information of each relationship on record until the person has decided that their partner is the best match for them.

Though I still don’t need my entire life to be dedicated to finding the perfect guy. However, in this fictional universe, there is no other choice but to agree with what the system chooses or “failure to comply with the system will result in banishment”. Amy needs to decide to whether she should rebel against the system after she found out her pairing day was set -the day where she will be paired with the one forever- but she is aware it’s not Frank and he’s the one that she felt the most connected with than any of her other encounters.

This type of forced commitment reminds me of the practice of arranged marriages in many countries around the world. Despite whether the person actually loves their future significant other, which is rare in many cases close to the arranged marriages in Nepal that were merely based on wealth, media exposure, or for a better family lifestyle, what matters is that the tie of two people benefits their families more than themselves and their happiness. I understand that in these situations, there are many factors, like wealth and status, that matter more than one’s happiness, but I feel that we all deserve to be happy and that includes deciding for ourselves who we want to share our lives with. It seems that one of the few options to show disagreement with a set decision like this is through rebellion. [a]

Frank and Amy demonstrate their own rebellion when escaping their soon to be digital world. They soon find themselves among many alternate Frank’s and Amy’s and each couple have a number that goes up to 998; this number represents 998 rebellions out of 1000 simulations, equal to the 99.8% match compatibility for the real world Frank and Amy. All of the encounters that Frank and Amy had to relive constantly in the simulation were statistics that would determine if they were compatible with each other in the real world. In contrast to living various simulations, most couples determine if they are compatible with one another through their horoscope signs, based on the careers they have, or whether they match in the one or two categories from their “My Perfect Partner” list.

I usually determine whether I am compatible with a guy based on the courses he took in high school, like AP courses, so I know he can handle the same amount as rigorous courses as I do and is not someone who parties all the time; maybe also someone who can speak Spanish so my parents can communicate with him more easily in their language than just English. Just a few examples of my preferences for the type of guy I want to be with. Our ways of matching ourselves with other people aren’t always necessarily related to technology. How would the way we interact with each other change if technology already controlled that for us? In a way, it might actually be easier.

A vast amount of people attend UCLA and if an app existed that automatically paired me with the person most compatible to me and my interests, it would take the stress away from having to balance my life both socially and academically. I could just focus on the fact that my paper is due next week instead of the guy from Bruin Buzz and questioning whether he was staring at me or the coffee stain on my polo shirt.

Then again, it would also take away the feeling of adrenaline when meeting someone unexpectedly and realizing you may have just found your own perfect match, maybe even the coffee guy. Even then, it seems that as technology is becoming more precise in gathering our data, the less privacy we tend to have. Pamela Anne Quinroz debunks dating apps like Grindr to prove this assertion of data gathering, arguing that “mobile services use scientific techniques for matching, such as ‘chemistry’ surveys, proposed as assisting users in optimizing their match..” and that they evolved into a “growing industry”.

While taking these quizzes that supposedly decide who is the person we are fit for, these industries take our data for their benefit and we believe that these are benefitting us. Which honestly, is rarely the case. Somehow I always knew that Liam Payne and I were never meant to be, sorry thirteen year old me. This message of advanced technology helping us in our romantic lives is implied throughout the whole episode, especially at the end when the song keeps repeating the phrase “hang the DJ” when the real Frank and Amy were about to meet for the first time. Most of us can think of a scene where some guy wants to have the girl he likes to fall in love with him, so someone asks the DJ to play a slow, romantic song to get the guy and the girl to dance close together and eventually become a couple. The perfect atmosphere for romance.

The song contradicts to this cliché because the point of the rebellion is to demonstrate that love is much more meaningful when you find it yourself instead of an entire romantic journey that practically just handed to you. I admit the idea of my partner’s compatibility being proven by science sounds pretty great; it might even be more legitimate this way than just believing that we will live “happily ever after”. Our love for each other would actually be a proven fact. If more couple’s compatibility were scientifically proven like this, the percentages of divorces would probably decrease and most children wouldn’t grow up with issues that are caused by their parent’s divorce, like depression and school drop-outs.

According to Paul R. Amato and Jacob Cheadle’s article, The Long Reach of Divorce, their study of the consequences from divorce passed from generation to generation concludes that the “grandparent’s decisions to divorce predict less education, greater marital discord, and weaker ties with parents two generations later”. Basically, the divorce of one generation will affect the next generation’s decision to go to college or get married themselves, all because of factors like economic status or lack of communication between parents.

Factors that carry from one generation to the next. The domino effect of failed marriages passing on to the next family generation would have been prevented these factors were considered before marriage. Although proven compatibility can possibly solve these problems, it’s still not fair. Life should be spontaneous sometimes, not always following some sort of agenda. Whether you are in a committed relationship or just waiting for the right person to appear in your life, it should be up to you to decide who to spend your life with, not a computer device.

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A place where technology controls life. (2021, Nov 29). Retrieved January 26, 2022 , from
https://studydriver.com/a-place-where-technology-controls-life/

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