Sleepwalking into dystopia looks at the role of big tech verse government legislation that both try to gaslight us into believing they are fighting for us when the reality is quite the opposite
Why do people not see it? Why do they conflate it with conspiracy theory or some kind of radical extremist for even thinking about what is going on in the world? Most people would rather bury their heads in the sand than face the reality of what is going on. As our freedoms and rights are stripped away and the corporation's rights are increased, we can surely see where politicians’ allegiances lie, and it is not with the people that vote for them.
Yet these corporations are often big tech. They are literally harvesting up our data.
We are giving away our freedoms to get free access to apps and technology, technology that only makes life more unbearable, but we don’t see it. It is progress after all. Who are we to stand in its way? But where will it lead? What powers are we giving to the people that know more about us than we do ourselves? We are so tracked, monitored, and analysed that it becomes easier and easier to nudge us this way or that. And no one seems to care. The people I talk to just raise their eyebrows, some nod in agreement, some just do that polite smile and wide-eyed look of ‘oh we have another one’. And yet what I talk about, write about and post about are not conspiracy theories. There are no lizard men, or people in smokey rooms planning the enslavement of humankind. But there is enough erosion of freedom with an increase in technological surveillance to set the scene for a dystopian nightmare to unfold.
Politicians cannot keep up with technology. We see that time and time again as they flap about aimlessly in their committees trying to figure out how to tame the beast. Whilst big tech keeps moving forward with the unregulated freedom of seeking out new frontiers.
In many cyberpunk dystopian movies and books, including my own in-progress work (and the devil died screaming) paint a picture where the capitalist big tech corporations have taken over the running of the world. And this is not as farfetched as many think it sounds. Citizens tend to have a lack of trust of politicians, with good reason, we only have to see the behaviour of the conservative government here in the UK right now to see why, and yet they have a somewhat blind trust or reliance of the big tech companies to keep them up to date, for their social lives, news and more. Their opinions are often formed by headline clickbait on social media without digging deeper.
You can see the subtle battles between big tech and the governments of the world regarding regulation. Big tech talking about privacy, freedom from censorship, and the rights of their users, even if it is a lie. The aim is to get us on their side as they pitch their battle as being for the people and not about their own corporate interests.
It is clear to see how this could unravel. At least to a writer of dystopian fiction like me, we have to be futurists after all forecasting where it might lead. Hoping in some small way that our work can inspire change through the metaphors we use and the tales that we put forth serve as a warning sign, a foreshadowing of what might come.
If the people back the unelected big tech side of the arguments blindly believing they are fighting for their best interests, partly because they know governments and politicians cannot be trusted, then they walk right into the trap of a kind of cognitive dissonance from the reality of the situation. The big tech PR machine has convinced them that they are the good guys even though the reality and facts of the day can clearly show otherwise. From erosions of freedoms, harvesting of data, and selling access to it to advertisers through to the shitty working conditions their own employees often have to suffer, to name just a few, it should be clear they are not on our side. But people get sucked in by the lies and cognitive distancing allows them to ignore, delete from their awareness or distort the facts when they emerge.
The governments on the other hand claim to be protecting their citizen's right to security, whilst at the same time taking steps to remove their right to privacy along with their rights to free speech. National security always trumps the rights of the citizens in their minds and so they want to force big tech to give them access to private messaging, data, and more. It is easier here, for those who live their lives using big tech, to see the governments of the world as the bad guys in this argument and so the narrative and storyline is pitched as a battle between good and evil. And not evil against evil which would be more closely reflective of reality.
Both claim to be fighting for our rights but neither are. They are fighting for their own. Their own agenda around profit and control. All the time the citizens do not get a say. This battle will continue and as we keep sleepwalking into dystopia who knows where it could lead us.
In this new section, Sleepwalking into Dystopia, I will look to explore this subject from the point of view of analysing their behavioural communication, PR, and propaganda machine that likes to gaslight the world away from the reality of what both sides are really up to in an aim to unpack it.
if you like what I am doing here why not check out my substack books in progress.
My nonfiction work on Campaigning for Truth in a Web of Lies can be found here.
My cyberpunk dystopian novel book 1 in the series can be found here.
Photo by Mateusz Chodakowski: suport their work.