Have we entered a dystopia? | Portsmouth High School

Have we entered a dystopia?

Year 11 pupil Holly considers whether we have entered a dystopia during the Coronavirus lockdown and the temporary loss of our freedom. Her writing is part of some in-depth studies during English Home Guided Learning sessions.

AI and technological advancement have fascinated people for decades, with possibilities being stretched not only in the real world but also in the world of the arts and our own imaginations.

Robots are now more ‘human’ than ever, having the ability to feel emotions and remember their past; but are we becoming more robotic, losing individuality and imagination in favour of ‘mainstream’ trends and constant entertainment? The rise of computers and machines is present in many works, but I would like to focus your attention on the dystopian world of Blade Runner.

A sci-fi action produced in 1982, the film explores a dystopian future based in 2019; where space exploration has resulted in all those with money and power evacuating a polluted and corrupt Earth. Those that are still there are the people that are seen as unimportant: the ones society would not miss, the ‘little people’, bringing forward the communal fear of being left behind.

We follow Deckard on his journey to ‘retire’ four escaped replicants (human-like robots), who have returned to Earth in the hope of finding answers. Their missing past has left them feeling incomplete and has sparked a desire to obtain photos that are supposed to be of their family and past experiences, linking to today’s culture of social media and ‘picture-perfect’ life.

The quest to constantly find the next photo to show the ‘idyllic’ life we all live, has removed us from our present, resulting in us living life through the black screen we hold in our hand. The Replicants are forced to live in the moment as they have no other reality to delve into. They are uninfluenced by the past as they do not have one; they only have other people’s memories that have been implanted into their brains.

Their memories have been manufactured, but in some ways have yours? I find myself only remembering times in my life by looking at a photo, so is it possible I have simply manufactured this recollection? Do I really remember something if I need physical proof of it happening?

However without those photos all of those moments would be lost in time, “like tears in the rain”, although was the actual moment lost as soon as I pulled myself out of it to take my phone out of my back pocket and open up the camera?

Whilst in lockdown I found myself thinking of all the opportunities and memories I would be missing as a result of the sudden loss of freedom we have all experienced. The loss of freedom is a theme found throughout dystopian literature and has made me ponder the question: have we entered a dystopia? With a viral epidemic, controlling governments and a lack of privacy and truth, it is easy to draw parallels.

Lockdown has led a change in my view on time, an hour can now seem to last a day and 5 minutes talking with a friend has never been so valuable. We all know we have limited time to live and experience what life has to offer and the concept of limited time is at the centre of Blade Runner: the replicants desire to know how long they have left and crave “more life”; a very human wish.

The replicants and their society are very similar to us in our own world; at the centre of their being is the need for answer to simple questions: “Where did we come from? Where are we going? How long have we got left?”