Dystopia

The predictability of smooth roads, clean environment, things running on time, uninterrupted power, water in the tap and  other public utilities delivered without a thought does take away all adventure from everyday life. In some places, however it is a daily struggle just to get the barest minimum of facilities. In certain countries, like ours, where roads are riddled with potholes and uneven pavements an obstacle course, one need not look for an extreme trekking holiday. Electricity can be intermittent and if we get water supply once a week, it is a relief.Cooking gas which is still delivered in cylinders, provides for a pitched battle with the delivery man to ensure that the gas arrives at a time when you are home to carry out the exchange with the empty cylinder and leaves one with a distasteful feeling of having dealt in contraband. Possibly, one imagines, a drug deal with a sinister Columbian drug lord might be easier to arrange. The antagonism of daily interactions slowly eat away at your mind, heart and all other internal organs. And then, you have to remind yourself, there are places in the world which are a hundred times worse than this.

The bulk of post-apocalyptic literature comes from cultures where life is systematically organised to the level of reaching mundanity. How very boring to wait at a bus stop knowing the bus will actually turn up! No wonder people want to read dystopian books to make things fun. The Hunger Games, Divergent, Maze Runner, Station Eleven, even Game of Thrones (in a way) are all about glamorising the struggle for survival in an hostile environment where might is right and each person has to fend for themselves, communities have to be re forged and basic necessities non-existent. The books make a virtue of gun toting (or some sort of weapon toting) individuals and emphasize the charm of relying on instincts which are not called for in a developed society. Killing is easy, in such books, even nonchalant.We mention the books because we are familiar with them but there are also TV series and games based on similar themes.

Similarly, the boredom of well-regulated everyday life could explain part of the appeal of crazy, lunatic organisations promising adventure, unending glory and a fabulous afterlife. In contrast the inanity of the work and home cycle probably seems pale. Though we realise that the issues involved are much more complex, and we are staying away from the bogey word of religion, it is possible that boredom is a contributing factor making people open to influence. The old adage of an idle mind being the devil’s workshop can be very true. Perhaps it is tedious to have to think about what to make for dinner as opposed to going out and hunting for it. Those who find it fascinating to pick up a weapon (whether a gun or a vehicle), and like to think that they are fighting against the ills of life, in fact come from privileged positions with the time and resources to pretend as if life is an xbox game. They don’t even realise that the basic comforts which they enjoy are a blessing that others would die for.

All we can say is that these dissatisfied people need to spend more time facing real problems. Never having known the starvation, deprivation and daily struggles of strife torn areas, they seem to think that such conditions are worth aspiring to and worth recreating. Reading dystopia is one thing, but causing it…? Only the psychologists can tell us what that means.

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