cause of dystopia

All posts tagged cause of dystopia


I once heard about adderall and other get-smart drugs on some news paper and it instantly caught my attention. The idea of a pill used to help you get better grades was both scary and tempting. It always made me wonder what would happen if a society began to depend on these drugs or make them mainstream. Young adults would flock towards them for sure since that would mean less time studying, higher grades and more time to party. My fifteen year old self wanted to write a story about it but the project was put off due to workload . At that time, I had not yet heard of the movie “Limitless” but when I did and eventually watched it, I thought that it too optimistic about the future of the main character with the drug. There is not a specific ‘event’ for this (unless if you count Aubrey Huff’s confession about using it to win for the Giants) but a series of investigations in schools that helped put this into the light. From the article, I realized that not only was it not as effective, but highly addictive and lethal, resulting in physical and mental health issues. You can also easily get large amounts of it too by obtaining it from a third-party, thus creating an underground ‘drug operation’ off of it.

Since more and more students are using it to enhance their studies (with mixed results for now), the question became: what would happen if it became effective? What if there were several kinds? What if the government promoted pills that each enhanced a specific property such as memory, flexibility, strength etc… Or to sum it all up: what if there was a dystopia who would thrive on it?

First of all, it is not for everyone, some thrive on it, some get immediate side-effects, some do not find it helpful at all. Therefore, for the lucky ones who could resist its side effects and rise up enough so that they could afford the expense while living an opulent lifestyle. It would almost be a game, a dangerous one too where you had to watch your intake, understand quickly how your body adapted to the pills. What about the rest who ‘fall out’ then? I was thinking, while reading many of the stories of those who got hooked upon adderall, that they would eventually reach a ‘peak’ and then spiral down into poverty, depression or worse, needing the pills more for physical and mental maintenance and for boosting their performance. Those who are prone to the lure of the pill (or pills I should say) would be the young, as competition is vital for survival or for a good job.

An interesting aspect about this dystopia is the involvement of the government. At first glance, it seems almost laid back, with a eery hand-off attitude because the pills are stealing the whole show. People fall in and out of grace everyday and those pesky rebellious teens are too caught up trying to top each other in sports and academics. However, it does have a few problems to regulate. The first one would be economics. This is where my idea of this dystopia gets slightly blurred ( I was never really good in economics), because if there are too many people getting accepted then fired, making the jobs unstable. How would it ensure stability? Especially if this is also threatening its own ranks? They have gotten to where they are because of their capacity to cope with the pill but that does not mean they do not depend on it. This is why I think it should be run by technocrats, people who deal and manufacture these pills so that the side effects are not too drastic for some, like a selective process.

A second problem would be how to deal with the unwanted, drugged population that is now wasting the dystopia’s precious resources? A good way would be to get rid of them or perhaps make all of these people useful for test trials (although their bodies might be riddled with drugs). This process will be secretive since one would barely notice the disappearance of a tramp or a miserable family. Also, due to poverty and the rest of the population fighting for smaller jobs, crime rates will be high so the police would be more worried in dealing with drug lords and underground organizations than the real issue. However, it is important to note that the results of the pills should not be too drastic, so that after you go over your peak performance, you can still deal with smaller, more lowly jobs until you become completely worthless.

There are still many problems and illogical ideas in this conjecture and I personally feel that the most tragic part of this dystopia is that it will eventually fail, crumble within itself but instead of reaping a new society, it might give way to the total destruction of its inhabitants.


Why adderall might be the most dangerous drug on earth

Stimulant drug Adderall attracts student misuse at Norwich

As all literary works aim to make an argument to persuade the readers, dystopian literature are distinct from all other genres in that it displays a devastating state of society where the problems are magnified infinitely to an unrealistic extent. In this hyperbolic form, dystopia serve as a warning to its readers, stimulating them to initiate certain changes in the society to prevent its fall to dystopia. Dystopian literature thus appears to me as an extreme approach through which the authors let out their cry against certain aspects of contemporary society. But, is it true that all dystopian authors feel that strongly about the social problems, that is, do they really believe that the problems can cause dystopia to form as depicted?Image result for feed mt anderson

This question came to me when I finished M.T. Anderson’s Feed and his own afterword “On Feed.” (Since Feed is specifically set in the US, the following analysis will be focused on the US exclusively.) The US has long been a capitalistic society where free economy and consumerism dominate. It has already gone through the Jazz Age, the hyper-materialistic stage of consumerism, and the substance-short period of the Great Depression. It has given birth to numerous new technologies and huge companies, from Coca-Cola to Apple. With environmental issue brought into focus since the 1960s, most people are able to view consumerism critically, acknowledging material as necessary but not the most important element of life. So does Anderson really fear that consumerism can lead us to such a degraded environment and brainless society in Feed?

In the afterword, I found Anderson very honest about his views: “For me, the key to the discomfort — and the exploration — is how much I love some of it [the hyper-marketed world in Feed], how much I still do want to be slick like the people on the tube, beautiful, laughing, surrounded by friends…It is the anguish of indecision that animates it.” I have seldom seen authors thoroughly explaining their own thoughts on the themes of their work, and even fewer (none, I think, actually) presenting a conflict and their own mental struggle. Feed is a very unique work in that it does not advocate completely against consumerism, the deadly cause of the dystopia, but rather inflates its negative impacts to the greatest extent and simultaneously presents some of its fascinating features, leaving an open question to its readers: since we need a free market, how can we act as well-informed, intelligent and conscientious consumers that help preserve both the society and the natural environment?

I have, therefore, decided to research dystopian authors’ view about the social problem presented in their work through the lens of consumerism in dystopia. Through analyzing the ways in which the deadly flaws are presented and studies on the social impacts of consumerism, I will try to answer to question “do people really believe that consumerism is dangerous enough to lead to dystopia?” from a sociology perspective.

Image result for consumerism

“Consumerist priorities.” Consumerism – Lessons – TES Teach.