Nothing is more entertaining than a future dystopia in which an unlikely hero topples the Orwellian government and frees the people from their shackles. Everyone wants to be part of that type of rebellion, to fall into a passionate romance and then make the world a little better. Unfortunately, our world doesn’t hold up to fiction. Reality can’t compete with the latest Young Adult novel turned money-minting movie franchise.
But, if you pay attention — look closely enough — you can find little acknowledgments we do in fact live in a battered, comically tragic world. Hooray! One in which everyone around you is alienated not just from nature, but from themselves and each other.
Luckily, Internet vigilantes ever eager to remind you the world is a hopeless mess are sharing pictures to rip back the red curtain and pry your eyes wide open.
Remembering the Sky
To be fair, you have to appreciate Beijing’s commitment to remind people their smog-filled city was once a beautiful Eden with blue skies and verdant hills. Oh, late stage capitalism, you sure know how to blot out the sun. Now, China’s capital is filled with cyberpunk pollution and unread copies of Chuang-Tze’s nature-loving philosophy. But who cares? At least they have smartphones and video games. And by living in Beijing, you can even predict the future! That is: you’re going to get cancer.
Always remember, though you may be surrounded by people, you are utterly alone and that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be. While this London Underground sign is for show, it’s also a helpful reminder to never look another person in the eyes for more than two seconds lest you trigger their anxiety reflex. Not that avoiding eye contact will be too hard.
Thanks to pocket computers and the overwhelming need to feel constantly connected — but only through superficial online identities — we never have to acknowledge other people exist again. It’s solitude and fragmentary culture every day. Way to go narcissistic solipsism!
It’s not as if you read anyway. In fact, research shows you probably haven’t even made it this far: you’re scrolling through the pictures and barely expressing an amused smirk before wiping this moment from your memory or casually sharing it on social media for a quick burst of intrapsychic acceptance. What’s the last book you read anyway? Harry Potter? Have you ever held a leather-bound novel? Please don’t bring up your library card. People go to the library to use a computer or to stay warm while they do drugs in the shitter.
Hats off to the Hilton for protecting us from the existential threat of reading and self-reflecting about existence and the existence of others; for reminding us books are merely decorative, and the words within are dangerous. Back to YouTube, Netflix and Steam! After all, reading is for bourgeoisie suckers.
Monetizing the Revolution
Nothing screams a sociopolitical shift to a self-governing society like the line of male-grooming products Axe. Voltaire wrote, “Men are rarely worthy of governing themselves.” Let me fix that for ya: “Men are rarely worthy of governing themselves [unless they slap on some malodorous Axe body spray and then it’s all Vive la révolution!]”
I bet Axe Anarchy smells like false promises and poorly thought out consequences. But don’t tell that to the boardroom arguing for the “Anarchy” line of products. Those guys are so high on the noxious fumes of their own products they’re still working for Axe.
The fine folks at Wal-mart understand liberty begins with sartorial freedom: the means of expressing your individuality through how you dress so long as it falls under five shades of blue — three of which I can’t tell the difference between thanks to acute color blindness.
Maybe your inner radical is fuming. You want a unique color for each square on the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator, so you can give yourself a filing-cabinet concept telling the world exactly who you are (just like your astrological sign). Well, maybe it’s time to slap on some Axe, start a labor union and then get fired because Walmart does not appreciate your idiosyncrasies, and neither does most of the rest of the world. Welcome to dystopia.
Do you need more Instagram likes for that picture of your cats cuddling together so all the friends you wear like cosmetic accessories think you’re really popular? Time to fly to Russia. Step right up to the like-buying machine, coming soon to a mall near you.
Sure, you have to navigate Cyrillic script and there are plenty of online services accomplishing the same thing, but that’s nowhere near as exciting for a dystopian future. You want to publicly spend money to delude yourself. Really, what’s better than swiping your credit card for a dozen virtual thumbs-ups generated by algorithmic usernames? Nothing makes me feel more accepted by the society at large.
Have you decided on a career in the humanities, the arts, the creatives? What are you, stupid? Time to apply for a loan at a 6.8 percent fixed interest rate and get your ass back to school to do something useful: STEM. Because science and engineering are the future, and being a creative, introspective individual who lives through self-expression is an adolescent idealism that has no place in big brother’s paradise.
Time to get a lobotomy right-brainers. When you’re a cog in the technocracy who needs to think, amiright? Just make sure you don’t think about the creative freelance graphic designer who designed this advertisement. He’s still waiting to get paid.