To me, a dystopia is a place where equality does not exist but also a place where one fears or constantly lives in fear. If utopia is a place where everything is perfect and everyone is happy, dystopia would be the opposite: a place of unhappiness.
Equality does not exist in a dystopia because there will always be a group of individuals who are treated better than the others. Additionally, the people are essentially powerless. They have no say or rights to choose on their on free will. It’s a place where one is judged unfairly or treated unfairly. In this world they are required to live a certain way and not break from that way of living. A dystopia is also a place of fear. This could be interrupted in many ways as ones fear may be someone else’s happiness. On a smaller scale someone’s dystopia could be a world without their love ones or a world where they are all alone. This is because some people’s fear is of being alone or ending up alone. Building on top of this, someone’s dystopia is losing everything that they have that makes them happy. Dystopia is based on what one considers to be their utopia but instead the completely opposite of that. A good book that I read back in middle school that I believe hits on this topic is The Giver by Lois Lowry. In this book everything seemed perfect at the beginning because the higher ups believed that they took away the source of pain from everyone. This allows everyone to be happy. However, it’s more of the fact that they only knew one type of happiness. Towards the end of the book is when the main character realizes the type of world that they have been living. Everyone perception of what a dystopia is to them is different based on the experiences that they had. However, in the end a dystopia shares the common idea of an imperfect world, whatever imperfect may mean to you.