Dystopian sci-fi loves the drugs. Because both are fun. But science-fiction drugs are usually about as dystopic as a hangover – unpleasant, but an incredibly predictable result of what we’re already doing. They might have stupider names and grant the occasional superpower, but they’re still the same story of “addiction bad make bad guys bad.”
Even worse, they still make the user feel good. That’s not dystopic. You can’t claim the nihilist bleaktimes when it’s still possible to get high off your laser-tits. People are still making things, feeling good, hell, there’s even an economy. Film all the teal-filtered rubble and sheet metal you want, a world where you can still fly with the magic unicorns is a less scary one.
A truly dystopian future would leach that trade of all value, making a mockery of even wanting to feel good. You’d have hordes of people queuing up to sacrifice their dignity to perform meaningless acts in return for worthless product, abasing themselves to an uncaring machine for tins of sugar water like lab rats with login details.
Which is already happening.
You give the machine access to your facebook feed for a can of soft drink. People selling their digital selves to a corporation. I am tragically disappointed. I always thought virtual hooking would mean TRON-lingerie and mopping up the holodeck. Instead you’ve got “The Like Machine”.
This couldn’t sound more like a social media horror story. Because that’s exactly what it is.