Works of older science fiction is always fun to read in the modern age. Some of the works are way off of what “the future” actually looks like. Earth in 2001 looked nothing like the world we saw in 2001: A Space Odyssey, it’s 2015 and we don’t have widely-released hoverboards or those insta-pizza capsules from Back to the Future II. Despite those technological disappointments (the lack of insta-pizza being the biggest tragedy), there were some times that science fiction was right on the money–and sometimes, it’s not always in positive way.
All of this begs the question: are we living in a dystopian wasteland without even knowing it? Does this mean I’m gonna have to register for the Hunger Games soon? Take a look at the list and decide for yourself.
Government Surveillance (1984)
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In George Orwell’s novel, 1984, “Big Brother” was the head of the government in Oceania. Always watching and monitoring its citizens, with reminders of “Big Brother is watching you” posted everywhere, it proved to be the picture of a corrupt, power-hungry government. These days, things are nowhere near as hostile as what occurs in 1984 (despite what that one weird family member likes to post on Facebook), but constant, occasionally invasive surveillance is not as unheard of as one would think. From cameras filming on street corners, the NSA, to trackers on cell phones, it’s quite easy to “watch” a person 24/7. Unfortunately for the NSA, the government, Big Brother, or whatever you want to call it, all you’ll get by tapping my phone are the rapid-fire dad jokes and stupid reaction gifs I like to send to family and friends. I could at least have the courtesy to be interesting if I’m gonna be monitored, right?
Body Image and Conformity (Twilight Zone)
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There are tons of creepy and unsettling episodes of the Twilight Zone, but when they start mimicing reality, they get even creepier. In the episode “Number 12 Looks Just Like You”, we see a society where teens must go through “the transformation.” The episode’s protagonist resists the process–and we learn that her dad actually killed himself to avoid it–but she ultimately undergoes the procedure. Seeing a society so concerned about a person’s outward appearance, using and over-using substances (called “instant smile” in the episode) to overcome sadness, and a pressure to conform are, sadly, all very real aspects of modern life.
Reality TV (Farenheit 451)
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Most all of us had to read the book Fahrenheit 451 in high school or college. While the topic that gets the book the most press is the book-burning (just about everyone knows that first line, “It was a pleasure to burn”), there is another dystopian prophesy that is alive and well today–the parlor family. Montag’s wife, Mildred, spends most of her time in the parlor, watching the giant screens she has in there. All day, every day, Mildred sits to watch the lives of her “parlor family” play out. She talks about how invested she is in their lives, how much she cares about them, and how important it is that she keeps up with them. So basically, what Ray Bradbury was trying to say in his book was that Montag’s wife was hardcore addicted to Keeping Up with the Kardashians, right?
So what’s the verdict? Have we been living in a futuristic dystopia all this time without even knowing it? Let me know what you think (and other instances of sci-fi future predictions that came true and those that haven’t yet) in the comments!
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