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Why do humans enjoy dystopia?

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    Why do humans enjoy dystopia?

    I feel like in our art and stories, we crave dystopian futures. They excite us. Often in those stories, I think we at least somewhat overcome the challenges and dangers, and the implication is we go on, after the credits roll, to live in peace. But we never show that part, or go into much detail about what such a redeemed society would be like.

    Most of us look around at automation and climate change and political tensions, and "joke" about where it's going, but I wonder if we're losing the ability to see an even slightly possible positive outcome for humanity, and whether that loss will hasten the end.

    Why don't we get as excited about the idea of creating a fair society, where suffering is minimised and freedom is increased, as we do about being enslaved by robots or hunted by zombies?

    Do we just like the game of good Vs evil?

    I think we're facing the "evil" right now, and it'd be a good time to start envisioning fantastic futures where we overcome the multiple threats to our existence.

    #2
    I suppose there's just not as much story content in a perfect future. "Everything was great and everyone was happy. The end."

    But people do enjoy dark stories even beyond that. Like horror is an entire genre. I don't know what the draw actually is there, but I enjoy it too so I can't say it's wrong.

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      #3
      I think these stories help us to see how things can go wrong. It's not necessarily that we want them to.

      Though like Undies kinda said, the scariest kind of dystopia can be where nothing ever goes wrong.

      But when you think about it, even Star Wars is a dystopia. And I think we're in love with the struggle for good. It takes some bravery to dare to live in an enlightened society, though -- fear of the unknown.

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        #4
        Interesting thought. The human mind is so weird, I've read that those weird thoughts we have where we imagine ourselves in dire circumstances (what if I.... jumped out this window, crashed this car, dropped this baby I'm holding, etc) are kind of like preventative measures, kind of like shocking our brains into NOT doing that thing, because it's a possibility. Maybe that's the case with dystopias, it's kind of the worst case scenario, people love to trace the sequence of events that lead to the dystopia (like in Idiocracy) so I feel like it's almost preventative in a way, maybe

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          #5
          What should be preventative sometimes turns out to be manifest destiny though, I guess. Like 1984. It's weird how many things are similar.

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            #6
            Originally posted by Undies View Post
            I suppose there's just not as much story content in a perfect future. "Everything was great and everyone was happy. The end."

            But people do enjoy dark stories even beyond that. Like horror is an entire genre. I don't know what the draw actually is there, but I enjoy it too so I can't say it's wrong.
            Yeah, it's definitely not wrong. I think horror is a little different, because that's us enjoying being scared, from a place of safety.
            But yeah maybe it's related. We enjoy seeing the world collapse, from a place of safety..





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              #7
              Originally posted by the Riddler View Post
              . And I think we're in love with the struggle for good. It takes some bravery to dare to live in an enlightened society, though -- fear of the unknown.
              True. I find it less intense when it's a fictional world. It's when it's our immediate future on our planet that it seems too real, these days.

              And yes we like the struggle. I just think we don't spend enough time exploring the details of creating utopia. It's just a magical thing that might happen at the end of the struggle.

              Actually, the film Her just came to mind, which I mentioned in another thread recently. Because that is exploring the idea of humans using AI for emotional support and relationships. I guess that is what I mean. It's not so much a utopia, but it's not AI destroying mankind, either.

              ​​​​​​And it's also about the struggle for connection, and against loneliness. So yeah, that's a good example of the type of story I think we need more of.

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              • neonspectraltoast
                neonspectraltoast commented
                Editing a comment
                I agree with that. Utopia will be a natural progression of Truth, but top-to-bottom we live in a very deceptive world right now, and a rebel alliance is needed.

                We are truly living in a dystopia. But would it in a dystopia that the veil has not been lifted. They'll bomb us to the stone age if they feel they must.

              #8
              Originally posted by Verbe View Post
              Interesting thought. The human mind is so weird, I've read that those weird thoughts we have where we imagine ourselves in dire circumstances (what if I.... jumped out this window, crashed this car, dropped this baby I'm holding, etc) are kind of like preventative measures, kind of like shocking our brains into NOT doing that thing, because it's a possibility. Maybe that's the case with dystopias, it's kind of the worst case scenario, people love to trace the sequence of events that lead to the dystopia (like in Idiocracy) so I feel like it's almost preventative in a way, maybe
              Yes, I think that's what we feel we're doing, and maybe were, up to a point. But it seems more often we just create what we imagined. The world seems more like Idiocracy today than it did ten years ago when I first watched it, haha

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                #9
                Part of it is similar as liking crude and offensive humor. It's being entertained by and playing with the unlikeable. But with dystopian stuff there's obviously also the warning/reality check factor.

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                  #10
                  NEW! FUTURE!!!

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                    #11
                    I think Undies makes a good point. Fro. From a fiction standpoint, a dystopia offers a lot more room to work with than a utopia.

                    What are we in for? As much as it seems like things are getting worse, from most objective standpoints, the world has been improving for decades. Literacy is up, child hunger is down, violent crime is down, there are almost no major wars. Almost any way you measure it, humanity is doing better.

                    https://www.vox.com/2014/11/24/72729...racy-good-news

                    It does seem that everyone is going barking mad due to social media. But also most of the crazy people are staying inside, so I’ll call that one unknown. Probably a big problem… but it’s hard to measure.

                    Unfortunately, the IPCC just released it's latest report. It's wildly disastrous.

                    https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/d...R6_WGI_SPM.pdf

                    So Scenario SSP1 is assuming we start reversing course now and get carbon sequestration in place to remove the many billions of tons of CO2 we've put into the atmosphere.

                    SSP5 is assuming we just go full idiot and make no changes.

                    Click image for larger version

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                    For some perspective, a 6C temperature change was one of the inciting events in the Permian extinction. Which killed off 75% of the life on earth.

                    https://www.britannica.com/science/Permian-extinction

                    It'll be alright though. Sometimes you wake up on the wrong side of the cave, stub your toe, discover the biomass of all the extinct species of earths last mass extinctions, and burn them to power your doomed society. There is some chance we're smart enough to handle this one.

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                    • Jessica
                      Jessica commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Yeah that report was part of the motivation behind this thread. Your last paragraph was strangely calming through lol

                    #12
                    Nice graph.

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                      #13
                      I know I'm relieved. For a minute there I lost myself.

                      I thought there was a rape culture, and get this...

                      I thought priests were raping children.

                      I thought there were riots in the cities, racial strife, chemical warfare, and an island of garbage in the Pacific four times the size of Texas.

                      It's just so good to see a graph which makes it look crazy to be concerned.

                      Nothing to see here people, consume and fuck.

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                        #14
                        You know, for a second...well, a long time...I thought humans were spiritual and we were falling out of harmony with the Great Mother...but lode has a graph.

                        And, well, children in bubbles can't die.

                        Death, hopefully one day we can avoid it altogether.

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                          #15
                          Originally posted by lode View Post
                          Almost any way you measure it, humanity is doing better.
                          I'm not buying that. You can come up with a list of stats showing improvement, but you can also come up with stats showing the opposite.

                          How about income polarization? Political polarization and enmity? Mental illness and suicide? We may not have had a major war recently, but that doesn't mean one isn't around the corner. Beyond climate change issues, there's also pollution and natural resource consumption.

                          We also have an unsustainable, and unsustainably growing world population.

                          Beyond what things we think may correlate with greater happiness, has the world become a happier place? Will the future be a happier one for humanity?

                          Despite the things I've said noting some doom and gloom, globalization has tended to lift up many of the poorest parts of the world, though in large part at the expense of the US working and middle class.
                          Last edited by OP1; 08-11-2021, 01:57 AM.
                          "I like big butts and I can not lie"
                          - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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