Fake Bookish Neurosis: Dystoparanoia

Dystopian Dioramas by Lori Nix

I’m currently listening to Claire Danes’ narration (fantastic, btw,) of Margaret Atwood’s classic The Handmaid’s Tale, which I’ve read a few times already & am re-reading in preparation for World Book Night. If you are not familiar, a) how is this possible and b) it’s about a near-future society in which a right-wing religious “cult” has overthrown the US government and re-ordered society into biblically “traditional” roles, which basically means women have been re-relegated to property, on this earth solely to procreate and serve men. Independent thought police abound. It’s not so great for the men, either – they’re held to strict moral codes as well. Sounds fun, right?

The most terrifying thing about speculative fiction such as The Handmaid’s Tale is the relative ease with which such a society could just… well, happen. Already paranoid about all this information sharing that we do, either wittingly or unwittingly, such dystopian novels – especially this one, which shows how easily the cylons/right-wing-nuts/borgs/alien invaders basically could flip a switch and take over – only heighten this dystoparanoia. I find myself thinking, with every post I make on Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr or the internet at large, “Oh, here’s further evidence for the future religious dictator-oppressors to use against me! But it’s not like I haven’t given them enough already, so what the hell.”

I have created quite the case against myself. That thing I just posted making fun of young anti-marriage equality people for their intolerance and lack of spelling ability? Yeah. The New Genesian Republic won’t stand for such positions in a person’s history. (That is, assuming I still have the status of “person.”) The stuff I post speaking out against rape culture and for women’s bodily autonomy? I’m sure I’ve violated several somethings in the Book of Leviticus, which would no doubt used against me at my “trial.” I mean, maybe they wouldn’t even go to such efforts, since merely being a woman will be a crime of some kind. Or women wouldn’t have any rights to violate anyway. That video of the sneezing panda? Evidence of my lack of proscribed compassion, obviously. Raising money for rescue animals? Not a counter to the hilarious cat antics posts, no. Clearly I should have been focusing on human needs instead.

After that, my dystoparanoia takes a lovely turn, nightmaring about the future in which not only are we ruled by alien/cylon/borg/extremist-nut-job overlords, but, of course, the devastation we have wreaked upon the planet will be no longer deniable, except that it will be interpreted as some god’s way of punishing human deviance and immorality, further supporting the authoritarian cause, instead of as what is the obvious, inevitable result of previous generations of consumerism and corporate greed.

Ironically, I slept quite well last night.

Anyone else suffer from this side-effect of dystopian fiction?