I’ve recently been watching Black Mirror on Netflix. I like the way it challenges our perception of reality. There is one I watched which really disturbed me as it felt really familiar in some ways.
Walk with me through the description of the episode and I’ll meet you on the other side.
The episode, set in an alternative reality where most people have “grains” recording everything they do, see, or hear, and allowing them to play back their memories in front of their eyes or on a screen, tells the story of Liam (Toby Kebbell), a man who starts suspecting that his wife Ffion (Jodie Whittaker) might have had an affair.
Young lawyer Liam Foxwell (Toby Kebbell) leaves a work appraisal that he felt went poorly. He belongs to a portion of the society that has implanted a “grain” behind their ear, recording everything they see and hear. Using a remote, a user can perform a “re-do”, playing back their memories directly to their eye or to a video monitor. While returning home, he repeatedly watches the re-do of the appraisal, and is troubled by a seemingly insincere phrase from his employer.
Later that evening, Liam meets his wife Ffion (Jodie Whittaker) at a dinner party with friends and finds her talking to a man he does not recognise—Jonas (Tom Cullen). As the party continues, Liam becomes concerned that Ffion seems fond of Jonas, laughing at his crude jokes. When Liam and Ffion return home, he goads her into talking more about her history with Jonas. She admits that she used to be in a relationship with him before meeting Liam, who finds that Ffion’s accounts regarding the length of their relationship are inconsistent, so he becomes paranoid. The conversation turns heated and they get into a fight. Eventually, Liam backs down and apologises to his wife. They proceed to have sex, both of them watching re-dos of previous and more intimate sexual encounters.
Afterward, Liam leaves the bedroom and watches re-dos of the party to scrutinise Jonas’ behaviour, while drinking heavily. By morning, when Ffion comes downstairs, Liam drunkenly demands more answers from her about Jonas. Ffion refuses to answer and returns to bed, while Liam leaves for Jonas’ home and physically demands he erase memories of Ffion from his “grain” or he will forcefully remove it, which could lead to vision and brain damage. Jonas complies, relaying the erasure process on a video monitor. Liam returns home, but crashes his car drunkenly into a tree and passes out. Regaining consciousness, Liam replays the last few memories before the crash to figure out what happened, surprisingly discovering that Jonas had a memory of he and Ffion having sex about 18 months ago during Jonas’ “grain” erasure, near the same time that she conceived her daughter, Jodie.
He angrily returns home and confronts Ffion about it. She admits she and Jonas had sex, after Liam had temporarily walked out after a fight, but they had used a condom and Liam must be Jodie’s father. Liam demands she show him the re-do of the event to prove that, but Ffion claims she deleted it. Liam becomes more hostile, demanding she show him the blank space on the “grain” where she erased it. She reveals the re-do she had kept from 18 months ago and plays it, which verifies that they had unprotected sex and implies that Jonas is the father.
Sometime later, Liam walks around his empty house, watching re-dos of happier moments with Ffion and Jodie. Liam goes to his bathroom and uses a razor blade to cut out the “grain” from behind his ear, a flurry of memories flooding his consciousness before the screen cuts to black.
I found the episode so disturbing as. I feel my brain often replays scenes from my life, re living all the emotions attached. Constantly watching and re living painful scenes. The thing is I do not have the control to stop them. When I sit alone, or remember something they play automatically. The thing is it is rarely the happy memories which surface, just the painful ones which torture me and make me feel I’m a waste of space, that my life counts for nothing and that no one even likes me. The fact that I was rarely listened to if just proof I am not worth listening to now. The fact that I was often not noticed means I am not worth noticing. The fact that I was just there to help others means I am now not worthy to ask for help.
The thought of being in control of these memories, and even able to delete them is really tempting. Even of the cost of that would be huge. What would it be like to be free of this constant internal chatter which constantly undermines all I do?
So does anyone know where to go to get your memory wiped??