Cyberpunk is a genre categorize as high tech low life. This is shown in many fictional works such as Blade Runner, Robocop, Ghost in the Shell, and many more. Although it’s of a fictional future, the essence of Cyberpunk is a real one that’s present today. By looking at developments of technology as well as its effect on society; one can see how we are living in a Cyberpunk future, as this is Cyberpunk now.
High Tech, Low Life
In Cyberpunk fiction, a lot of people are poor, but they still have access to advance technology for example computers, advance cars, and virtual reality. This is something that is going on today, where people can afford to have the latest iphone, yet still live below the poverty line. This occurs for many reasons such as the fact that people can make payments, but also people can spend their entire paycheck on a thousand dollar phone, and still complain about being broke. Obviously a person can afford an iphone, but that doesn’t mean they’re rich, as poor people can have a thousand dollars to spend. Nevertheless, the point is when it comes to technology today, there is no distinction between rich and poor as it’s affordable to everyone just like in cyberpunk. This turns to extreme levels considering the fact that there are a lot of homeless people who have smart phones. In the Bay Area particularly, where homelessness is running rampant, homeless people are still able to have smart phones from the government giving them out for free. Without looking at the political sides of this, it’s clear that in today’s world, a person can be poor yet still have the latest technology.
This brings social implications such as the one in Cyberpunk, because in cyberpunk, it shows how the advance technology has caused a social change in people’s mind and society’s stability. We constantly see this when people use technologies such as the smart phone and social media for bad behaviors. Things such as ridiculous challenges such as snorting condoms, eating tipods, licking ice creams; those things are things that spread through the use of technology such as the smart phone and social media, so their influence on people’s mind causing them to do this crazy things was pushed by technology.
Many times we can see how young people who have this access to all this technology are still behaving primitive when it comes to social behavior, and this is something used a lot in cyberpunk works.
One big aspect of Cyberpunk is its showing of corporations which have become so large and powerful also known as mega corporations. With this, the mega corporations have become even more powerful than the government as the government is non relevant in the situations of cyberpunk or too weak to do anything as shown in works such as Robocop. In today’s world we have many corporations which are growing at a fast rate as they control a lot of things. Disney owns many of the big studios in Hollywood, steaming services companies such as Netflix are making a lot of purchasing, Amazon’s owner Jeff Bezo’s net worth is growing tremendously beyond 100 billion dollars from owning so many different kinds of companies other than Amazon, nevertheless Amazon itself is starting to control a lot of different fields from shipping, to book stores, to technology. It’s possible ot look at these corporations and such like them as mega corporations. The manner which they are Mega Corporation isn’t a bad thing or good thing, as it depends on the views of the individual, but there are some key things to look at when understanding the nature of businesses today. Many businesses use cheap labor from China where people are being paid almost pennies for hard labor without much accommodations, which almost equals to modern day slavery. There are some corporations that put chemicals in their products that have caused illnesses to people.
The most absurd thing about all of this is many times, these corporations aren’t brought to justice for what they do. They may be sued many times, but other than that they continue to do the same mal practices without any punishment dealt out by the law. Just like in cyberpunk where people depend on the mega corporations as they control many parts of people’s lives through their product rather than force, and nothing happens to them, this occurs in today’s world. Many times people focus so much on the government and the politicians who do bad things as they want to bring them to justice, they fail to hold corporations that they buy from to the same accountability. People may protest or tweet about what a politician passed or said, and they will show up to their office in picket signs and chanting and the news will report on it, but how many of those same people will protest corporations for putting chemicals that cause illness in their products, ones that get people addicted to drugs through their prescribed medicine, or ones that use cheap labor? How much does the news cover it? Of course there are some outrage and coverage of it, but not as much as it should be as people will see it, but not thing much about it before going onto their daily lives being distracted. This is a big element of cyberpunk as it is real in today’s world.
High crime is a factor in cyberpunk as it reflected the way of life during those times it was made. Crime was at a high in the U.S. in the 80’s, so it made since that a lot of cyberpunk had high crime in it. Now that crime has dropped dramatically, it appears that this is one thing that today’s word is missing from a cyberpunk future. However, common crime has been replaced by another malpractice, and that is drug use and homelessness. In the country a lot of people are homeless as there is a homeless crisis going on, but also a drug epidemic through drugs such as opioids but also as simple as recreational drugs as now more and more kids are being addicted to drugs from all kinds at a young age. It would take a longer discussion on a different topic to see the correlation between drug use and crime, but it is true that drugs to alter people’s behavior and can make them more violent but also not much clear in the head over time. With this factor, modern society has a lot of people whose minds are becoming messed up bring the issue of mental health, and who knows where that will take them in the future as generations passed.
In conclusion, as a lot of people may dress up as Handmaid’s Tale, protest politicians, and complain that America is becoming a dystopia through either Soviet Union communism and socialism, or Nazi Germany fascism and racism, and in the future the government will control every aspect of our lives, our guns and freedom of speech will be taken away, and we will all be slaves, it is important to see the truth. None of that will happen, instead the dystopian future is happening now as people do not see it. For the way control is imposed over people is a control which the people do not see they are being control, instead they believe they have control when in reality the puppeteer is in the shadows pulling the strings. When a person believes they are in control, but someone else is as they ate tricked to believe so, that is the ultimate control. Not control where it’s by force or with as gun pointed down in someone’s face for that will only cause resentment, fear, anger, and rebellion over time. Instead the ones at the top impose it through strategic and subtle tactics, so the masses will never know they are being herded to the slaughter house. Look around, we are living in a cyberpunk world, this is cyberpunk now.