Blade Runner – Are We Headed Towards Dystopia?

No, we’re not. At least, not the kind of dystopia the Blade Runner series warns us about. Robots trying to take over Earth and its off-world colonies? Give me a break.

We’re still far away from a Blade Runner-like world. The complete absence of animals and trees. Human-like looking robots, known as Replicants in the series, who are smarter and more agile. But we’re getting there. Some of the parallels with the films include robotic sex toys and dolls, Alexas, flying cars, Elon Musk’s Mars colonies etc.

The emphatically widening income inequality too strikes a resemblance. It’s not quite like in the films, where the rich have abandoned Earth to jet off to off-world colonies after screwing it up, while the poor are stuck behind. But I can’t help but think about the great Gil-Scott Heron’s work and wonder if we’re following the same path.

Sending humans to Mars is cool, but is it cooler than solving a global food crisis? Oh well, I’m not supposed to tell the rich how to spend their money.

The economic divide created by technology is palpable in the films as it is on present day Earth. The predominantly white-skinned tech giants living in their towering metaphorical pyramids while the rest of the filth gnawing for food and booze in the streets. The filth gaze up to the pyramids for hope but the kings residing there couldn’t be more indifferent.

We love to become gods and Frankensteins through technological advancements. Just have a peep in Amazon’s warehouses where humans have been replaced with robots. The line “Every leap of civilization was built off the back of a disposable workforce. We lost our stomach for slaves…We could storm Eden and retake her” from the film series summarises this uncomfortable truth.

The greatest similarity, however, concerns me the most. An utter lack of emotions. In the Blade Runner films, the Replicants become “more human than human” while the humans spiral into a robotic nature. How do we deprive ourselves of Vitamin D and not move an inch further away from our beloved screens? Even Netflix has to remind us to take breaks. I’ll never understand the hunt for approval from strangers through likes on social media and at the same time, become so oblivious to intimacy from the people closest to us.

Although, there is hope. We’re not in denial anymore. One good thing about the pandemic has been the realization that we hate not being able to have any physical contact with our dearest friends and family. We can suppress our emotions but can’t get rid of it completely.

“Is technology/ social media/ mobile phone/ *fill in the blank* a boon or a bane?”

We’ve all had this generic debate in elementary school and ended up with the objective conclusion that it is good with a controlled usage and boundaries. The tech geniuses, however, won’t allow that. They want us to buy into the idea that they care by rolling out the screen time feature in most phones, only to be negated with the never-ending additions in our social media apps. We can’t help but scroll down through hundreds of our favorite “influencers.”

We now know that it is exhausting to look at screens 24×7 after sitting through months of online lectures and meetings. There was never any doubt that technology improves our life to no end. But giving it complete control over our lives is destructive. Thank God we know that now. Thank God, indeed.

Other phenomenal “Overdependence on technology is ruining us” movies:

Wall-E (2008)

Her (2013)

World of Tomorrow (2015)

World of Tomorrow Episode 2: The Burden of Other People’s Thoughts (2017)

Upgrade (2018)

RoboCop (1987)

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