Tonight I watched “Hang the DJ,” a fourth-season episode of Black Mirror that several people have asked me about. This will be a spoiler-free post in terms of plot, but not theme. (If you want a more in-depth, spoilery perspective on this episode, I recommend this article.)
The episode is all about love and relationships. What if every relationship were on a timer? Would you be happier knowing the time remaining or not? Would you knowingly suffer through a bad relationship if you knew you’d find the right person afterwards? How do our failed relationships improve our relationship skills and what we’re looking for in a partner? How do you ever really know you’re with the right person?
The big question for me is about the idea of a “perfect match.” A soulmate, essentially. The entire premise of the episode centers around a “System” that uses a highly complex algorithm based on who you are and the experiences it steers you towards to determine your perfect match.
This is something that real-life dating sites attempt to do. E-Harmony, Match.com, OkCupid…these sites all have different ways of determining compatibility. From my time on Match and OkCupid, I was sometimes bewildered by the 90%+ women I was matched with. Other times I was rather impressed.
The System takes it to a new level. It has a near perfect success rate. However, is that a good thing? Is it possible to have true love if an algorithm decides who you’re meant to be with, even if it works?
I’ve been going back and forth about if I would use the System if it were real (and if I changed my mind about marriage). It sure would be tempting. Okay, fine, I’d use it!