In my experience, the media and propaganda almost always serve the same function in dystopian societies, that is to keep the common citizens ignorant. This is likely because technology often plays an important role in dystopias, and as a result, most dystopias include societies with either primitive or incredibly advanced technology. Primitive dystopian societies aren’t able to use propaganda on a scale large enough to be interesting, but for more advanced dystopian societies, propaganda offers a peaceful way to control people while also allowing the author to introduce relevant themes regarding the control of media. In the case of my independent reading novel, Under the Never Sky, both types of societies exist. There are the “Savages” who live in the post-apocalyptic wilderness and are mostly concerned with staying alive and protecting their tribes, and those who live in the Pods and spend most of their time in a type of augmented reality known as the Realms using a device called a Smarteye.
As one can imagine, the Realms allow the government to control the information available to its citizens to a great degree, even for a dystopia, since they are able to virtually shape reality as they see fit. Even familial interactions take place in the Realms. People are raised to believe the outside world, known simply as the Real, is a terrible place filled with pain, suffering, disease, and cannibals. Even worse, the Real is boring. You have to actually walk places, and one’s appearance can’t be changed instantaneously. This is perhaps one of the most effective uses of propaganda by a dystopian government I have ever seen. The government does not need to force its citizens to obey. Instead, it only needs to convince them that obeying is an enjoyable experience. Different Realms are created to cater to people of various interests, and because it’s all virtual, the government does not actually have to divert resources to keep its citizens happy. As long as the government keeps its darker actions secret, which isn’t hard when it has so much control over reality, who in their right mind would rebel in what is seemingly paradise?
Rossi, Veronica. Under the Never Sky. HarperCollins, 2012.