What’s A Real Dystopia Anyway?

In class, we started with the Merriam Webster definition of dystopia, and ended up with something that was a small piece of what it was before. We started with “an imagined world or society in which people lead wretched, dehumanized, fearful lives”. This was fine, but wordy and confusing. In the course of about an hour, we decided that the best definition of a dystopia was actually “an imaginary or real place whose people may lead a restricted and oppressive existence under some form of authority”.

There was a lot of progress that happened with that definition. For one, it’s a more relatable definition for actual human beings and not just fictional characters that constantly live in a state of fear. I believe that a dystopia can be any place that’s detrimental to one’s mental, emotional, spiritual, or physical well-being. I do think the definition we came up with was a step in the right direction, but I would change just a couple of things. First, I’d take out “and oppressive”, because I personally feel that it’s redundant, as oppression is a form of restriction. Second, I would add the words “whether they are aware or not” at the end. I personally feel that people can unknowingly live in a dystopian society for several different reasons, and adding those words makes this definition more inclusive.

My final definition would read as follows:

“An imaginary or real place whose people may lead a restricted existence under some form of authority, whether they are aware or not”.

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