If TV is the true mirror to our lives now in the present, then perhaps
literature can provide us with a glimpse into our future. Whether
dystopian, utopian, or just plain hyper-real, the future is out there for
all to read, as long as you're willing to look between the lines. Well, we have indeed looked, and what we've seen in the pages of the future
is ... bizarre. Here are 8 examples of elements from dsytopic novels that have come true, in one form or another.
Double Think from 1984 by George Orwell
If learning history wasn't complicated enough, in the future it'll be all the more difficult since it'll be in the process of constantly being rewritten to better suit the present. This means history will be changing on a daily basis and to better suit the needs of the government or a certain type of political ideology. The only way this type of control could work is with the introduction of what Orwell coined as "double think" in his dystopia novel, 1984. This type of thinking would allow for an entire populace to be manipulated and controlled without the need for any direct force. The consequences? No one knew for sure. After all, fear of the unknown is a powerful thing.
Politics from 2030 by Albert Brooks
It's safe to say our government will always have its flaws, but just how flawed it is becomes all to apparent in the novel 2030. In the year of the title the US has made incredible strives technologically, and we're inhabiting the future that we've always dreamed of since watching The Jetsons. However, there is one small problem: the debt. It has
become too much and has resulted in a growing divide between the debt burdened youth and the retired, and rich, elderly. The schism results in an ageism and terrorism that we've never encountered before. Suddenly, selling off states and letting foreigers rule is not so unreasonable.
TV shows from George Saunders's short stories
Reality TV has been getting weirder as the years go by and while the shows that Saunders creates in his hyper=real narratives are still a bit outrageous for cable television today, they're becoming slightly more feasible by the TV season. Instead of Bad Girls Club and Teen Mom we will soon have things like How My Child Died Violently, which "features a ten-year-old who killed a five-year-old for refusing to join his gang (from "Sea Oak"), or Final Twist, where "five college friends take a sixth to an expensive Italian restaurant, supposedly to introduce him to a hot girl, actually to break the news that his mother is dead (from "Brad Carrigan").
Technology from Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
We are all glued to our phones, but Shteyngart takes this to the extreme. In the not-so-distant future everyone is wholly dependent on their apparati, a small device that controls and shares all your personal
information. Clout is a thing of the past; now it's all about your fuckability score. If you
have bad credit and are caught by a bad credit pole on the street, you're whisked away to some slum
or another. The world will soon be run by social media and technology
on a whole new level, and if you think we lack privacy now,
just wait a few years and see what Google Glass will evolve into...
Sexuality from The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
In Atwood's dystopian future, sex is made completely mechanical and feminism turned completely inside out. While the book explains that women have been fighting for and receiving "freedom to," they are now experiencing "freedom from." In this light, what seems like a horrific return to medieval ways is actually made to seem somewhat empowering. The sex between husbands, known as Commanders, and their wife is actually taking place through a fertile women, known as a handmaid. The man, fully clothed, has sex with the handmaid, only nude from the waist down, while she lies on top of the wife, who is fully clothed. The ordeal is incredibly rigid and awkward, but strictly regulated. Goodbye romance and hello good ol' fashioned Christian procreation.
Standards of Beauty from The Uglies, The Pretties, The Specials, and The Extras by Scott Westerfeld
is unique, at least for now. Scott Westerfeld envisions a world in his
series where every sixteen year old is turned "pretty" via an operation
that essentially makes them flawless, like everyone else. While you
can still look 'different' with various types of tattooing or feature
enhancements, called surges, everyone essentially is washed down into
being the same, thinking the same, and being easily contained. Fans of Toddlers and Tiaras shouldn't be surprised.
Death and Medicine from White Noise by Don DeLillo
Medical science has come a long way since the days of blood letting and leeches, but nothing has yet cured the inevitable ailment of death and fear which it brings. In White Noise Jack Gladney and his wife, Babette, are both run by the overwhelming fear of death. Babette so much so that she is willing to have an affair in order to procure some Dylar pills, which are an unlicensed pharmaceutical drug that is supposed to ease the obsessive fear of dying. While the future will inevitably be filled with a strange array of changes it's somewhat comforting to know that something, even something as primal as fearing death, will stay constant.
Written by Rebecca Hoffman