CW: another grim /apocalyptic one, avoid as required
We’re clearly living in a cyberpunk era. Enough could be said on that to fill a book, but I’m more likely to turn it into a blog post, if anything. Marx and many others had ideas about the stages of history, the progress of civilization. I don’t know how well any of those hypotheses have played out, but from our vantage point now, the current and next stages of civilization are easy to see: Cyberpunk Dystopia, and collapse into Post Apocalypse. I just want to jot down this thought before I forget it, for future reference. One recurring theme of cyberpunk fiction was an inversion of what we’re going to see.
To thinkers back then, cyberspace was a sad fake realm of delusions that ultimately perpetuated human woe. While the internet has helped promote hate crimes and establish fascism in our time, that’s a case of a good thing being manipulated to evil ends. Much like how con artists exploit positive social instincts of trust and enthusiasm to rob people, I don’t think that reflects negatively on thing that was exploited.
Cyberspace is a good thing. We’re able to come together and make good things happen like never before, enrich each other’s lives, pool human knowledge and creativity and compassion. Selling out net neutrality, allowing monopolies for the mega-rich, these are killing the experience by tiny cuts.
And ultimately, it’s all going away. The infrastructure will collapse and we’ll lose this. For some people, that’s already the case. Rural areas in the USA already have garbage for service. Morpheus’s ideal – everyone walking away from the illusion to embrace the desert of the real? It’s not going to edify or elevate us in any way, but we’ll still have to experience it.
The collapse of the internet will be a good defining bound between the Cyberpunk and Post Apocalypse eras. And it’ll just be another signpost on the slide into extinction.