White Christmas Creative Response
Matt Trent, played by Jon Hamm in the 2014 Christmas special of Black Mirror, is a character that unfolds through three events that reveal his bane of being a social virtuoso. His job and hobbies are specifically designed to his strength as a puppeteer of humans; Matt excels in observing, predicting, and controlling human behavior. His job requires him to assist Cookie programs in adapting to their new environment and breaking them if they do not comply. After work, he acts as a dating coach and illegally watches social situations through the eyes of awkward amateur. Matt’s entire life consists of mastering these situations with the confidence of someone that deeply understands what makes us human. So when the government issues a global block on Matt, his life is more or less over. He can’t make contact with anyone. He will never see another human face again or be able to have a conversation with anything except a screen. The consequence of exploiting other humans and his involvement with a murder leaves Matt in a permanent prison of isolation.
When Matt initially leaves the police station and discovers his condemnation, he is surrounded by white silhouettes. Despite physically being near other humans, he cannot verbally interact with them. The viewer does not get to see what happens if he physically tries to get near them, but it’s possible that a restraining order is in effect for how close he gets to people. Although that probably wouldn’t be necessary due to Matt’s threatening red silhouette that is present to everyone. No one can see who he is, but his status as a sex offender is clear to every person he passes. Because of this appearance, no sane person is going to go near him, and Matt will be eternally unapproachable and will make the public uncomfortable for the rest of his life.
Due to never being able to work or interact with anyone, Matt would have to retreat into his house and probably never come out. Any basic human rights would be taken away from him, like the ability to go buy groceries or go to a bar. Luckily, the internet at their time is very advanced, so he can still have some form of a life through a keyboard, finding others online with the same desolate sentence. It might be possible to be content with that, but someone like Matt would most likely not be able to stand it. His life was so engaging before, and living in isolation would bring out extreme desperation in any sensible person. Matt seems like the kind of guy that would find a way around the block, or at least try everything in his power. If there was absolutely no way to get his normal life back, a removal of his Z-Eyes might be unavoidable. Even though everyone would still see him as an unknown figure, Matt would be able to see other people and conceivably pretend that there was no block.
Regardless of what steps Matt could take to lessen the burden, it’s believable that anyone in this situation would eventually commit suicide. Being blocked by the entire world is pretty much the futuristic form of the death penalty. Even though the government doesn’t force you to kill yourself, they’re pretty much setting you up for misery. Many people would agree that life is not worth living without the refreshing stimulation of other people. Without happiness, laughter, intimacy, or really anything, Matt would be stuck in an intensely lonely existence. What it really comes down to is how much will someone has and what kind of individualistic way of life they could create, if they truly felt that life could still be meaningful.
Personally, if I were to be blocked worldwide, I’m not sure how I would handle it. I’m an introvert so I have a lot of ways to entertain myself without other people, through means like books (no book clubs though), movies (not for a date), sports (except team sports), music (listening and playing), video games (single player), and other solo stuff. I think I could deal with being alone for a long time, especially if I lived in a cabin out in the woods where I could forget that I can’t see people. I would take advantage of the isolation and learn as much as possible. The real question is if the block works on animals! If I had a bunch of dogs then I would be set, who cares about people when you have puppies.
Reflecting on my personal choices and what I learned about Matt through the episode, I don’t think he could endure the loneliness. He had an entire family and he lived off of contact from other people (or coding that depicted people). He would probably last a year and then go internet crazy, or just regular crazy, or become a drug addict. Eventually he would die earlier than expected.