Dark Dystopian Futures: Snow Crash and The Matrix

When first asked which dystopian future (portrayed in the novel Snow Crash and the movie The Matrix) was darker, I thought that it was obviously true that The Matrix held the darker futuristic view of human society. In fact, that was exactly the point, there WAS no human society in The Matrix, only human "crops" that were grown for energy by machines. Human society had been demolished and people were living inside a computer-generated "world" that their brains were plugged in to. This is a pretty darn dark prediction of the fate of mankind. The only humans that broke free of the machines were living in hiding, constantly threatened with death by discovery, and ate the same "goop" day in and day out.

When I began to further compare the two worlds, however, I came to the conclusion that Snow Crash illustrated a darker dystopia. In Neal Stephenson's novel, humans brought upon themselves a separation of worlds: the Metaverse versus reality. Humans degraded their own society to the point of corporate domination. This cyberpunk novel embodies the championing of technology over everything else. If you have the gadgets and the skills, you rule. The vast majority of the population, a good example is Y.T.'s mother, is owned by the corporation they work for. Their privacy is breached daily with drug tests, polygraphs, and other invasive examinations.

This Snow Crash world of human demise is much more tragic to me than that of The Matrix in which machines caused the demise of our society. True, humans did invent the AI technology that took us over, but I consider that merely an effort to advance society, rather than tear it apart. Similarly, in Snow Crash, humans created technologies that would "advance" society, but they were ultimately destroyed by selfish power mongers and corporations. Societies in The Matrix did not make it far enough to destroy themselves because the machines took over. Yes, The Matrix is dark, but it is harder for me to come to terms with an illustrative work that displays the effects of human competition, as is shown by Snow Crash.

Works cited:
Stephenson, Neal. Snow Crash. New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1992.
The Matrix. Dir. Andy and Larry Wachowski. Warner Bros. Pictures, 1999.

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