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“That’s so Black Mirror”: How the Name of a TV Show Became an Everyday Expression

We are constantly trying to predict the future, but nothing does it more pessimistically (and sometimes accurately) than TV show Black Mirror.

“This year Facebook will ____!”

As marketers, we produce and consume an incredible amount of babble surrounding the next big thing. New trends and buzz words are conceived of and over-amplified as quickly as they peak and disappear, and our hunger for what’s next is never satisfied.

Yet, if the future is anything like how the creators of Black Mirror imagine it, perhaps we’d be better off not thinking about it.

“I never think of the future – it comes soon enough” – Albert Einstein

If you’re not familiar with it, Black Mirror is a show that plays with the extreme but scarily conceivable consequences of our use of technology and our growing dependence on it.

/>While the show is generally set in the future, many of the circumstances which the often ill-fated characters find themselves in are entirely plausible in our current world.

“Far from far-fetched, this shit is real, and if it’s not here now, it’s only five minutes away. That’s the scary thing – and the power – about this and every episode of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror,” says Sam Wollaston in the Guardian’s review of season three, which aired in October for the first time on Netflix.

The Brandwatch React team has examined the latest season of Black Mirror before – check out our social data review here – but we were keen to see how the television show has had an affect on our understanding of the world we live in (particularly as the show grew in popularity in the US).


Searching for mentions of “Black Mirror” across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, we set up our Query on a 10% sample to get a quick overview of volume and let Unlimited Historical Data take a few minutes to find mentions back to February 2016.

“This isn’t an episode. This isn’t marketing. This is reality.” – @blackmirror

The impact of the US elections on the conversation was incredibly prominent.


This tweet was a particularly popular part of that spike.

Black Mirror’s eerily close depictions of our world have made the term a popular reference point, used to describe technology with scary implications or events (like the US Elections or the EU Referendum) that have an uncertain impact on our future.

The show’s alignment with the real world goes beyond broad political themes. Some of the events that happen in the various seasons have depicted real-world events to a creepily specific degree.

“I never had a dream come true” – S Club 7

If you thought Black Mirror’s appeal was a journey into fictitious release you’d be wrong. With technological developments that could make every episode viably appear to be just around the corner, you might be more sensible to attempt to escape the reality Black Mirror predicts than escape the reality we’re currently living in by kicking back and enjoying the show.

Without revealing too many spoilers, the final episode of season three involves a large swarm of robotic bees. As this story in the New Scientist did the rounds on the internet, Black Mirror saw a significant increase in mentions.

It’s not the first time the show has been praised for its ability to “predict the future”.

An early episode, first aired in Britain on Channel 4, named “National Anthem” saw a fictitious British Prime Minister in a horrific dilemma involving a pig and a kidnapped member of the royal family. Four years later, sordid allegations involving Britain’s then Prime Minister David Cameron and a dead pig hit the national press.

You can read about Charlie Brooker (the man behind Black Mirror’s creation) and his apparent clairvoyance here.

“That’s totally Black Mirror” – Everyone

Our system found around 650 mentions of “like Black Mirror” (excluding mentions like “shows like Black Mirror”, “I like Black Mirror” etc), many of which were comments on news stories that described the elements as reminiscent of an episode or theme explored in the show.

There are plenty of examples of news stories people claimed were Black Mirror-esque.


A number of the thousands of comments on this post from Forbes referenced the show (the episode ‘Playtest’ in particular).

The scariest part

When we first studied Black Mirror Season 3, we identified episode two (‘Playtest’) as the most terrifying of the episodes, according to how people were discussing it on social media./>

In the episode, a guy called Cooper signs up for a trial with a secretive gaming company when he runs low on cash. He is soon plunged into a game which searches his brain for things that scare him, and then he experiences those things. />It’s really not one to watch if you plan on getting to sleep easy (but it is an excellent episode nonetheless).

As gaming becomes more immersive and as technology like that shown in the above clip becomes smarter, this kind of terrifying game experience becomes more and more possible.

While Pokémon Go isn’t exactly terrifying, it’s a good example of how a game that mixes reality with fiction has mass appeal. Before Playtest even aired, we found plenty of references to Black Mirror alongside commentary surrounding the game.

Are we in a #blackmirror episode? #PokemonGO #bellevue #seattle

A post shared by Perry Pak (@ppakish) on

A reference point and a warning

“Black Mirror” is a rare but fascinating example of a TV show name turned into a commonly used comparative phrase, that can be applied to almost every aspect of our lives.

It feels important.

Beyond being a fun pop cultural reference, the connotations of “Black Mirror” as a term are unsettling and dark.

It’s a descriptive term used to call out situations where technology seems to have gone too far and, if we ever needed language to describe that feeling, now seems like the ideal time.

If you’re a journalist looking to cover our data email for more information.

Launching VICELAND UK with the help of social intelligence

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Measuring The Hype: The Nintendo Switch in Social Data

30 years ago the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was released with an unforgiving rectangular controller with five buttons.

Data Reveals the GRAMMYs 2017 Highlights on Social Media

From high profile performances to child-cameo-turned-meme, behold: the GRAMMYs 2017 highlights on social media.

Between 16:30 and 22:00 (LA time) the Brandwatch React team tracked 4.9 million mentions of the GRAMMYs across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

There was no shortage of drama.

The awards

We thought we’d take a look at mentions of each nominee for three major categories to see if it tallied with their chances of winning a GRAMMY. Looking at buzz surrounding the artists, songs and albums within GRAMMYs-related conversation on Saturday 11th February and comparing it to the buzz during the show, the results were mixed.

Record of the Year

Adele’s ‘Hello’ ate up the competition on Saturday as well as Sunday. A clear winner both on stage and on social.


Song of the year

Adele’s win was even more stark when it came to Song of the Year, as she stomped all over massive hits like “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” and “Love Yourself”.



Album of the Year

But wait! Adele didn’t appear to be the favorite to win Album of the Year at all on social. Her loyal following were nothing compared to Beyoncé’s and even as 25 won the coveted ‘Album of the Year’ prize it failed to overtake Beyoncé’s Lemonade.


To be fair, Adele may have been responsible for a lot of the Lemonade buzz on Sunday night…

The GRAMMYs 2017 highlights

Around 60% of the GRAMMYs online conversation was penned by female authors, which is no surprise given who ran the world on Sunday.

Beyoncé’s GRAMMYs performance gave us the first major spike on social media, followed by her daughter Blue Ivy wandering into shot while James Corden led a Carpool Karaoke segment. This moment, which was quickly meme-ified, was behind the highest peak in mentions for the whole evening.

The next biggest moments came from Adele, first in her tribute to George Michael (which she had two goes at) and second in her “Album of the Year” acceptance speech, in which she called Beyoncé’s contending album Lemonade “monumental”.


People in the spotlight

Despite Beyoncé and Adele taking the top moments, it was Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Chance the Rapper that caught the most attention over the whole of Sunday. God and Demi Lovato also made significant appearances in mentions.

Our topic cloud reveals the top used words and phrases within the GRAMMYs conversation from Sunday: />

A look at the top mentioned tweeters on Sunday also proved interesting. Within the overall GRAMMYs mentions, predictably @beyonce took the top four spots.

There was a surprise appearance from interviewed the owner of the account last year on how to build a huge following, and it appears they’re still going strong!



What was your favorite moment from the GRAMMYs 2017 highlights? Let us know.

If you’re a journalist looking to cover our data email for more information.

Uncover more insights

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A Nation Divided: How Should You Eat Weetabix? Data Has The Answer

These crunchy wheat cakes are a blank breakfast canvas enjoyed by thousands. But how should you eat Weetabix?

The 51st Annual Super Bowl on Social Media in 3 Charts

Super Bowl 51 is over, and the mentions have been counted. While the Patriots got the trophy, we have discovered the real winners of the Super Bowl.

A Fortnight with the 45th: Social Media Reacts to President Trump

Donald Trump has been the 45th president of the United States for just over two weeks. For our staff, it feels like much, much longer. 

We haven’t stopped covering Trump since he first announced his candidacy. Now, after an eventful two weeks worth of news, it’s clear our analysts aren’t getting a break anytime soon.

We decided to check out how social media reacts to Trump – using Brandwatch, we analyzed the conversations surrounding all of the administration’s decisions so far, including declarations, memoranda, executive orders, appointments, nominees, and bills.

We also looked at how the rest of the world is reacting to Trump and what his old supporters are feeling now.

Alright, let’s jump into the facts.

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The many, many decisions

We looked at a 25% sample of the conversations and news about all the executive orders and declarations made at the time of writing.

With the speed of change occurring in Washington since the inauguration, conversations tended to shift in focus as more news came in. For instance, conversations about Trump’s advancements of pipeline constructions have become less popular with time.


Of note, one of Trump’s decisions has had some staying power. Even after more than a week since it’s creation, Trump’s executive order regarding the temporary halting of refugees and immigrants from select countries is still the most popular decision discussed online.

Social media reacts to Trump around the world

With each new action coming out of Washington, the global implications of these decisions continue to grow.

According to millions of data points across the web, no continent but Antartica is staying silent about these decisions.

The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and India are among the most vocal countries involved in the conversations.

Unsurprisingly, individuals outside of the US most discussed the executive orders about immigration and the advancement of the wall on the southern US border.

Both executive orders have great international consequences, and thus sparked thousands of conversations from other countries.


The voice of his voters

Over 60 million US citizens voted for Donald Trump. How are these people feeling now?

We built a Query to listen to self-declared Trump-voters reaching out to the President’s official social media pages.

Interestingly, the topic analysis below shows that among Trump’s 60 million voters, there are currently a lot of mixed feelings.

Most of these topics fall into two pools of post-inauguration reactions: those who were glad they voted for Trump, and those who regretted it. Evidently, two of the biggest topics from voters are “glad I voted” and “embarrassed to say I voted”.

Some reactions included pleas for him to stop focusing on the “crowd size” of his inauguration. Additionally, others praised him for keeping Americans “safe”.

Many more fortnights to come

We’re not even close to done with our Trump data.

Follow coverage of the Trump conversation here, and look out for more research these next four years.

Are you a journalist looking to cover our data? We have plenty more. Email us at for more information.

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