The Entire History of You is an episode of series Black Mirror. The creators incorporated various symbols in this show. One of the most significant moments is a scene where the advertisement of a new device is shown. This innovative technology allows watching any moment that a person has experienced. The grain, which is inserted under the skin, can record everything that a person sees. The slogan in this advertisement tells that memory is for the living. However, the life of the main characters does not become better. The main goal of this paper is to analyze this episode, focusing on the advertisement of the grain and its significance for the proper understanding of the presented ideas.
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This episode of demonstrates the possible problems that might occur if individuals are provided full access to their minds. The creators suggest that the level of anxiety among the general public would drastically increase (Welsh). It might be caused by excessive self-consciousness. The main character, Liam, experiences psychological pressure that the grain puts on him. He is persuaded into buying the grain by an advertisement. Its slogan tells that memory is for the living, and Liam becomes over-focused on every single detail in his life due to the use of this new technology. It lets a person re-watch every event from the past over and over again. Consequently, he becomes obsessed and paranoiac.
This problem is deeply rooted in meaningless fear and self-consciousness. However, the protagonist does not understand that he cannot change the past. He is too self-conscious on the job interview, and that makes him pretend to be someone else. Liam ignores the fact that anxiety is a normal response to a potential problem or failure. He continuously looks back on past events, trying to understand their causes and effects. However, it makes him even more anxious and nervous. The grain drastically changes his life. It does not serve the living anymore. It becomes his living as Liam overwhelmed with regrets.
Facts about memory
This science fiction does not reveal the main principles of the human’s memory. However, it shows the effect of intervening in the memory processes on an individual. The way how memory works is not fully comprehended yet. However, several theories are widely presented. Nerve cells in the brain interact via synaptic connections that are complex structures that transfer signals. Neurons start passing signals when they are stimulated by several irritants simultaneously. The strength of such interactions determines the formation of memory. Long-term potentiation (LTP) is the amplification of the connections between neurons (Gómez-Gonzalo et al. 3699).
This process plays key roles in brain function. LTP occurs when “nerve cells “fire” or talk to one another at an elevated rate without further increased stimulation from neurotransmitters” (“How Does”). This process reminds the email system. The more a person sends emails, the easier communication becomes. The sender can be added to a contact list. The brain uses a similar principle, creating synaptic contacts. However, when a person stops communicating with a sender, the relationship slowly fades away. The ability to recall specific memories depends on the strength of such connections among synaptic contacts. LTP serves as a conductor for information in the brain.
It allows a person to “upload” and “download” this information at a very high rate. This theory explains why certain memories are stronger than others. It depends on the speed of a connection. Some recollections become more vivid if “the pathway on which you contact them performs at a faster pace” (“How Does”). The brain is a very flexible organ, and it can transform itself, depending on circumstances. Also, it can be trained as muscles. A person might enhance memory performance if the pathways among nerve cells are frequently used.
In this episode, the new technology gives people opportunity to avoid natural thinking process. A person does not need to work to make LTP occur. Everything is done by the grain. However, all processes in the brain are interdependent. Therefore, eliminating the necessity of recalling, people worsen their mental status. Such a connection is presented in this episode. The advertisement promotes the idea that the new technology intends to improve the quality of life. Nonetheless, it makes the life of the protagonist miserable and pointless. Liam loses the ability to look at himself from the outside.
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He is totally frustrated and depressed. He is constantly concerned about the past and does not think of the present and future. Liam is distracted by the grain. While life is going on, he gets lost in his memories.
The creators also question the ethical side of the possession of such a technology. A scene showing a security check at the airport reveals the violation of privacy. Security guards browse the memory records of every passenger that include moments from their private lives. Moreover, this scene implies that people who do not have the grain might be denied boarding. Such discrimination goes against basic ethical principles.
The main idea of this episode is that new technologies might be highly beneficial to humans, but people do not understand the purpose of such innovations and overuse them. It leads to various social and psychological problems. The main character gets full access to information about his past. However, it does not benefit him. It only makes his life worse. Therefore, this episode emphasizes the idea that people should be taught how to appropriately incorporate modern technologies in their lives, avoiding harmful effects.
Gómez-Gonzalo, Marta, et al. “Endocannabinoids Induce Lateral Long-Term Potentiation of Transmitter Release by Stimulation of Gliotransmission.” Cerebral Cortex, vol. 25, no. 10, 2014, pp. 3699-3712.
“How Does Memory Works?” Science Daily. 2016. Web.
Welsh, Brian, director. The Entire History of You. Zeppotron, 2011.