Have you ever wondered how life would be like if online protesters or everyone on social media were actually able to completely govern the world? The Orville episode “Majority Rule” shows us in a very entertaining way what could very well happen if that were our reality. In this episode, the Orville crew is on a mission to take home two anthropologists that have stopped contacting the Union about their findings on a 21st century earth like planet. While on the planet, the crew finds that everyone wears a badge and is rated based on the popular vote of what the people think of you making the society on that planet a total democracy. This whole thing is a mirror on how people today watch media and react to it on various social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
In our reality today, even before we learn the real truth the mainstream media is already all over a news story throwing out as much info as they can. While abruptly changing their info day by day. With this over load of miscellaneous information the public tries to make sense of it by voicing their opinions on social media platforms. All this does is create confusion and ignorance on all stances because not everyone pays attention to all the info around them just what they want to see. Which is exactly what happens on the planet that the Orville encounters, but at a larger scale.
In the episode “Majority Rule” on the Orville, the character John LaMarr jokingly dances inappropriately with a nearby statue and ignores Commander Grayson’s demands to stop. While LaMarr is dancing many of the people on that planet take video recording of him on their phone uploading it to the “master feed”. From what I gather the master feed is almost identical to our present day internet. This video angers the public and LaMarr’s rating badge skyrockets to over 500,000 negative points forcing him to leave the cafe. Since the cafe doesn’t allow citizens with over 500,000 negative points in their place of business. The Union refuses to give the Orville clearance to extract LaMarr from the planet because it was his disgraceful behavior that got him into trouble leaving LaMarr literally in the hands of the people.
This planet’s justice system goes by popular vote which is constantly displayed on TV with chat room commentary below both the positive and negative point tracker. LaMarr must convince the people on various talk shows why he should not be punished for what he did. This whole system is reminiscent of TV shows such as “The Voice” and “American Idol” which was jokingly pointed out by the characters within the Orville universe. As the final votes are coming in the Orville recruits a native of the planet to help them save LaMarr from his punishment (irreversible brain damage). With the help of the native the crew hacks into the master feed spamming it with various videos,photos, and comments of LaMarr as a fat child, war vet reunited with his pet dog, etc in order to get more positive votes and less negative votes. When Dr. Claire Finn asks the native if the public will research the information to see if it’s true. She’s reassured that no one researches the information and will see it as a truth when posted on the master feed. That is a big problem that we in the real world are facing today.
We are given so much false or half truth information from various sources and everyone believes it and further share the “fake news” on every online platform we can think of. One example was during hurricane Irma there was online forecasts showing that the hurricane was going to be much larger than it really was going to be scaring the public. Even though some of the false information on Irma was so massively screwed, people still ate it up and threw it back up into social media platforms. Even when the mainstream media time after time said they were fake no one seemed to care and still believed the lies about Irma. Don’t misunderstand Irma was still a terrible hurricane. I was there and lost power, lost my fence, and got flooded. It’s just the misinformation made it look like Irma would totally obliterate all of Florida, which it didn’t.
When the Orville crew first brings the alien native to the Orville Captain Mercer asks her, “How do you know what foods are healthy for your children, or what medicines to take if you’re sick”? The alien native says that they vote on it which is followed by a comment from Isaac, “I believe you are confusing opinion with knowledge”. To the aliens on the 21st century earth like planet on the Orville, everything on “social media” is true and that the majority speaks the truth rather than the real facts. In our real life society with the rise of social media, that fictitious planet is becoming our reality. Would you rather want that to be our reality or would you rather dig for your own truth and not just blindly follow what everyone else is feeding you on social media?