The “Attention Economy” and Black Mirror’s “Fifteen Million Merits”

Even though “Fifteen Million Merits” was my second least favorite episode of Black Mirror due to the poor world building and seemingly misdirected/poorly used investigation of love/connection, I think the genius of the episode may in fact be the avenues left unexplored by the script and camera and thus pushed to the questioning mind of the dissatisfied viewer (me) to criticize, contemplate, and conversate.

Bicycles clearly were not an efficient energy capture for powering society so how did this sham take-off?

What political and economic crisis precipitated the bike-life as a tenable option?

Why do we never see the real physical world — does this existence take place in a post-apocalyptic facility on earth or on Mars or on the moon?

Why/how did people end up on the bike-life, to whom are the profits going?

What happens outside the bike-life?

Where are the scientists who are growing the food?

If the bicyclists will talk to the fat-folks in yellow, why won’t they also talk to their fellow bicyclists while their eyes remain on the screen accruing points?

Mark Manson wrote an article about a month ago called “In the Future our Attention will be Sold,” I just read it and it’s pretty god damn stellar for the threads he manages to weave together. In the first half tracking progression of the dominant economies (land, labor, knowledge, attention) and pivoting to a discussion about how this influences what people feel/do/orient toward. I enjoyed the build to the “What, Pro, Con” of the attention economy.

I really enjoyed reading it. You will too.