If you stop for a moment and think about it, isn’t it rather strange that dystopian fiction is so popular? We all have issues and problems we struggle with in our daily lives. Wouldn’t it make more sense to prefer “positive” forms of escapism? Kinda like a Teletubbies for adults (pretty colors, smiling sun etc). Instead, dystopian fiction tops the best-seller lists, dystopian young adult movies rake in heaps of cash at the box office and shows like Doomsday Preppers are so in touch with the zeitgeist that numerous spin-off and knock-off shows have been created.
I myself am amongst those that enjoy consuming dystopian material. My bookshelves contain many literary works with strong dystopian overtones. I’ve enjoyed the Hunger Games series, The 5th Wave trilogy and Orwell’s work to name a few examples. Something to consider is if there exists a link between current societal conditions and the popularity of dystopian themes in fiction. Perhaps dark works are sought after when conditions are poor or vice versa. I have had a sense of foreboding for a number of years now. I believe that it has at least partially a link with my political awakening. The knowledge that the welfare state is unsustainable and that politicians over time take away freedoms from the populace tends to impact the outlook on the future negatively, perhaps that explains my negativity.
More specifically, I’ve imagined myself at a unspecified time in the future being in prison. From where I currently stand right now such a future is highly, highly unlikely. I’ve have no criminal record, have never had an interaction with the police, have never been in a fight and so on. I think I imagine going to jail for some political crime, perhaps for opposing the state or something closely related. I also enjoy spending time in nature and going on long hiking treks in the deep woods. I like to imagine what it would be like having to survive outside in nature cut off from support from society. Back during the Second World War this was reality for many underground members fighting against the Nazi occupiers of Norway. Perhaps I feel a kinship with those brave patriots?
Anyway, you quickly dismiss any “Disneyfied” notions you have about friendly googly-eyed animals and nature in general. Society is absolutely essential for human survival. Nature is not conducive to living to old age. Food is extremely scarce, unaided I would only be saved from starvation by the fact that I would die of thirst first. (Or perhaps exposure to the cold climate?) Thinking along these lines, I can easily relate to the protagonists in dystopian fiction. At the least it is good entertainment. Perhaps at some time in the future it will become more real? Several long term grand political trends are certainly doing their best. Demographic challenges, political power centralization, economic collapse, pick your poison. Perhaps we will be running around in the woods with firearms, rucksacks and bows and arrows sooner than we might think.