The scariest thing about reading dystopias is how well some of them have predicted the future. Some aspects of the books seem like a stretch until you read the books themselves. The way some authors have predicted how technology will ruin society is very similar to how today is. When you are in society and don’t know anything else it seems normal. The scary part comes in once you have read some dystopias and realize the similarities between the book and society. There are many similarities between modern society and predicted visions of dystopias.
One dystopia that has many similarities to society today is We, by Yevgeny Zamyatin. One big similarity is that their government, One State, wants to impose their beliefs on everyone and wants everyone to follow their way of government. In the United States government is constantly trying to get other countries to become a democracy. One way the US does this is by helping other countries in wars or natural disasters and try to impose their political beliefs onto the country they are helping. Also, One State has a national anthem, like the US, that they play at certain events. Another similarity is that One State has a high focus on math and science. Today schools in America stress the STEM, into kids. They put more of a focus and push on STEM rather than English and social studies. Another big idea that is similar is that there is no privacy in the dystopia. An example of no privacy in the novel is that all structures are made of glass.
Though America doesn’t have many glass structures, more and more are being built. There are also many other ways in which there is no privacy today. Some examples are security cameras, hacking, tracking devices in cell phones, and these are just a few of many ways people no longer have privacy. Another big similarity is the technologies. In We, the kids are taught by robots instead of people. While most classes still have actual humans for teachers, there have been testings for a teacher robot in the classroom. Another technology in the novel is x-ray glasses and the belief of surgery. Medical technology people are trying to come up with better methods and machines to look at patients.
This way time can be saved, along with money. Also today there is almost a surgery for anything you can think of. This goes to show how high we believe in surgery and that it can be the only way to help at times. Also in technology in the novel, they use the power of the waves in the ocean and turn it into electricity. While we don’t quite have wave power yet we do have solar energy from the sun and use river currents for energy. Another technological similarity is in One State they have made a machine called the Integral. The Integral is like a spaceship today and was created to discover possible life on other planets. Some countries like Russia and the U.S. have already created spaceships and looked for life on other planets, which was a prediction by Zamyatin. These are just some of the ways modern society has already turned or almost turned into Zamyatin’s predicted vision dystopia.
A second dystopia that is well known and has similarities to society today is 1984. One of the main parts of the book that relates to today is the technology and no privacy. In 1984 screens are everywhere, from your home to work, and in stores. Today everywhere you look there is some type of screen. Whether it be a phone, computer, t.v, or tablet. These devices give people access to websites that act like telescreens such as Facebook. Facebook is able to track our friends, what we like or dislike, and more. This could lead to knowing more and more about someone than you think. Another way telescreens are around us today is through surveillance cameras. Surveillance cameras are everywhere and can see clear pictures of someone or something.
Another way that our privacy is taken away through technology is by the government and individuals being able to hack into computers. When someone hacks into a computer that person is able to have access to whatever information is on there such as, phone numbers, what you search, addresses, credit cards, and much more. The government is also able to listen in on phone calls and monitor emails, and text messages. The government claim this is for our safety and maybe it is. This action is still a breach of our privacy and people are willing to give up some rights to privacy in order to try and feel safe. Another similarity to today and 1984 is how people use language today. In the book, they used a language called Newspeak. Newspeak is a way to dumb down the language so you don’t have to think as hard when talking. Today examples of people’s Newspeak are OMG, RU, wyd, tbh, and many more. These are just some of the ways today’s society relates to 1984.
Another example of a novel that relates somewhat to today’s society is The Giver. In this novel, people are happy with their restricted lives. Today we live somewhat restricted lives by being forced to go to school until a certain age. The ability to freely express yourself is somewhat limited in public and in schools. Another way the novel relates to today is that violence happens but it’s subtle and people are used to it. In today’s society, there is a lot of violence from shootings, stabbings, fist fights, domestic violence and in a way people are used to the violence. Yes, attention is brought to the situation but for the most part, people are used to it and it doesn’t surprise or bother them unless it happens near them or to them. In the novel, there is also a stress on politeness in society. Today’s society though people aren’t always polite there is always complaining that someone could be nicer and more respectful. Kids today are taught basic manners and expected to use them and follow the golden rule. These are just a few examples of how this dystopia has predicted society and how society relates to today.
There are a lot of ways people express dystopias from novels to movies to music. One movie that’s considered a dystopia today is the Pixar film Wall-E. Even though Wall-E is set way in the future there are ways that society today has already turned into the predicted visions and are showing signs of heading in that direction. One way society is heading toward the predictions from Wall-E is by the earth becoming a landfill. While today buildings aren’t made of garbage, it is becoming harder to find space for landfills, and almost everywhere you look you can find a piece of trash. Americans account for more than 1.600 pounds of garbage per year per perso. If the rates continue like this there is a strong possibility we could end up like Wall-E’s world. In the movie almost everyone is obese. Today the obesity rates keep growing as today about 160 million Americans are obese or overweight. Another similarity from the film to today is that everyone is looking at a screen. Today with smartphones it is rare to see somebody not looking at a screen. Wall-E also has self-driving pods. Today Google has built and is testing self-driving cars. These are just some of the ways Wall-e relates to today’s society.
While not knowing a world different than what we live in today it seems normal. After reading some dystopias the similarities between today’s society and their predicted visions is scary. The likeness between existing technology and technology being created helps to show how today our society is turning into a dystopia. Modern society as we know it is turning into predicted visions of a dystopia.
- Aronskind, Jake. “How Pixar’s ‘Wall-E’ Predicts the Future.” Futurism, 28 July 2016, futurism.media/how-pixars-wall-e-predicts-the-future.
- Beale, Lewis. “Opinion: We’re Living ‘1984’ Today.” CNN, Cable News Network, 3 Aug. 2013, www.cnn.com/2013/08/03/opinion/beale-1984-now/index.html.
- Stoner, Philip. “Home.” Mississippi University for Women – MUW, 2017, www.muw.edu/honors/merge/articles/4388-dystopian-literature-evolution-of-dystopian-literature-from-we-to-the-hunger-games.
- “The Vast Majority of American Adults Are Overweight or Obese, and Weight Is a Growing Problem among US Children.” Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, 9 Oct. 2015, www.healthdata.org/news-release/vast-majority-american-adults-are-overweight-or-obese-and-weight-growing-problem-among.
- Zamyatin, Yevgeny. We. Penguin Group, 1993