Successful–or Merely Popular?

The new season of “Black Mirror,” a “Twilight Zone” TV program now produced by Netflix, opens with an episode nicely terrifying for our Facebook/Twitter/Instagram times.

Starring the adorable Bryce Dallas Howard, the show depicts a near-future dystopia in which everyone and everything is evaluated all the time. People rate on their phones every encounter of their day—from picking up coffee to going on a date—and one’s status rises or falls like a stock price. Indeed, one’s actual worth rises and falls affecting everything one does, from what level of car one is allowed to rent to what privileges one has at the airport: You are your popularity.

This is the world trying to keep up with the Kardashians. This is the world in which a 26-year-old mother of two makes upwards of a million dollars a year merely arranging her life to be photographed, and then puts it up, hour by hour, online.

This is the world in which the most remarked-upon feature of our prime minister’s first post-inauguration encounter with the American president was the optics of the arm-wrestling of the first handshake.

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