Dystopian fiction is back on the upswing - from The Hunger Games to The Maze Runner and about a million other young adult movies and TV shows out there, we as a culture are thinking hard about a grim future where the poor are treated like cattle in a grim, unpleasant society dominated by the wealthy and powerful.
Luckily for all you dystopian fiction lovers out there, we're actually ALREADY living in a pretty dystopian society!
1. The rich are buying the blood of the young
Listen - I can't say with any certainty that this isn't the plot of Divergent, but there's gotta be like a 60% chance that this is exactly the plot of that YA dystopian series, right? As if the metaphor of capitalism turning the rich into vampires who suck the lifeblood from the poor to feed themselves wasn't potent enough, the startup Ambrosia went and made it LITERAL.
Yes, for a mere $8,000 (aka "an amount of money that most young people will never see in their lives due to drowning in student loans"), the wealthy can replace their old person blood with the fresh, vigorous blood of a young, desperately poor person! Of course, there's no actual evidence that the transfusions actually have any effect, but it's just nice that old rich people can buy the blood of today's youth.
Luckily, billionaires like Peter Thiel have been talking about harvesting the blood of the young to extend their own lives for a while now, so it's only a matter of time before you can sell the liquid that keeps you alive to rich people so you can afford to eat or receive an education!
At least we can hope to eventually live out our Mad Max fantasies by getting to be a "bloodbag" for one of the War Boys!
2. We're using humiliating games to celebrate our crumbling educational system
Relevant to today's confirmation hearings, public school teachers in Kanawha, WV were forced to participate in a lay-off lottery. pic.twitter.com/R8mLtIlvP1-- elizabeth catte (@elizabethcatte) January 18, 2017
We spend a lot of money as a nation - on billion-dollar planes that we have no plans on using, for instance. But one thing we simply DON'T have the money for is to pay for public education. Luckily, we've developed a pretty neat solution: an embarassing, awkward lottery system that acts as a fun take on The Hunger Games, except instead of murdering fellow young people for food, you're just losing your job!
No joke - this is insane. As if it wasn't bad enough that we were cutting funding for the already underfunded public schooling system in this country, we go ahead and humiliate the teachers by RANDOMLY firing them based on lottery results?!
3. 8 individuals control as much wealth as 3.6 billion people....combined.
As time goes on, the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest grows wider and wider...and we've finally reached the point where 8 individual people have the combined wealth equal to the poorest half of the entire world.
Yes, that's right - this is some serious District 12 vs. The Capitol shit. The individuals are:
- Bill Gates (net worth $75bn)
- Amancio Ortega (net worth $67bn)
- Warren Buffett (net worth $60.8bn)
- Carlos Slim Helu (net worth $50bn)
- Jeff Bezos (net worth $45.2bn)
- Mark Zuckerberg (net worth $44.6bn)
- Larry Ellison (net worth $43.6bn)
- Michael Bloomberg (net worth $40bn)
None of this is to say (necessarily) that these 8 individuals are somehow at fault - many are extraordinary philanthropists who have dedicated their lives and fortunes to doing public good in the world. But still, a system is in place that has somehow allowed 8 people to have the same level of wealth as 3.6 billion others is, like, Dystopian Future 101 here.
At least they can afford A LOT of blood.
4. We're replacing human relationships with holograms
It's easy to watch the Joaquin Phoenix movie Her (you know, the one where he really wants to fuck his phone) and think about how absurd the premise is. After all - being in love with an AI? Crazy!
Well, except it's definitely not, because society is growing increasingly lonely and introverted to the degree that a company has put out a holographic girlfriend named Azuma Hikari (that functions somewhat similarly to the Amazon Echo) who manages your schedule, gets excited to see you, and literally texts you to see when you'll be home.
This is some truly dark, depressing shit. Despite the internet bringing communication and connection to an unprecedented degree (or perhaps due to it), people are feeling more and more disconnected from physical human relationships...and this is the result. Damn.
5. ROBOCOP IS REAL (which sounds kinda badass but is actually sorta terrifying)
Paul Verhoeven's 1987 action satire Robocop always felt oddly prescient - and now we know why: because it's finally come to fruition and we all get to see it happen before our very eyes. Naturally drone warfare has escalated to an alarming point, where we're occasionally bombing hospitals and no one really has to take any responsibility because a robot did it - but now, Taser International Inc. is beginning to introduce stun gun-equipped drones to law enforcement officials.
You might be thinking, "Well this is fine - they'll only use the stun gun robots on the BAD GUYS, right?" To which I'd respond: "JESUS GO WATCH ROBOCOP!" (or, uh, take a look at every abuse of power ever perpetrated by law enforcement, and imagine if they could abuse their authority with flying electrified robots)
Bitches - LEAVE.
Drone robots with stun guns, you may stay.