Back in the day I used to be really big on a game called Cyberpunk 2020. It is a tabletop roleplaying game centered around a dystopian future where Megacorporations run everything, Governments are destabilized and the US is fragmented into different territories. It’s not the bright and shiny future, but it’s not exactly the apocalypse yet, either. The “cyber” (cyborg) is because the replacement of body parts with various enhanced prosthesis had become commonplace. The “punk” came from the groups of people dissatisfied with the corps, the cops, the government or whomever and took up arms against them, or sometimes just for profit.
No, this isn’t my gamer blog. For many years, since high school all the way up through about 2000, that was pretty much my philosophy. Corporations are evil. Government is just a big corporation, and well, I don’t much care for cops, either. That was the old paradigm, anyway.
What changed? I started having children. Suddenly another good old paradigm came into play- If you have a family, you have to have a job, right? And that thought construct could be stretched even further to say- if you have to be a breadwinner, sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do, like have a stable job that pays well. No more chasing dreams or rebelling against the system.
While I don’t have a metallic spine and artificial pancreas, the device in my hand is about a thousand times more powerful than the computers we had back in the 1980’s. Most of western culture is immersed in the internet. Paper is somewhat a thing of the past and Bio Diesel and Ethanol have become a large part of the fuel industry. My least favorite things predicted for 2020 in the game- Large corporations have basically taken over the world, government is crumbling and civil unrest is everywhere.
I spoke to Mike Pondsmith many years ago. I asked about the evolution of CP2020 from the original Cyberpunk 2013 edition. He said plainly, “The times just caught up to us.” And it’s happened with various incarnations of the game. We’re up to Cyberpunk 2077 now, I think? And while the transhumanist agenda hasn’t quite taken hold, many things predicted in the game have come to fruition in 2020.
Worse yet, to me, is that I effectively sold out to a large corporation. In my defense, I did start as a custodian there. I have lots of love for anyone doing that job, especially these days. And then, the best/worst thing possible happened- I got transferred to the fuel department as a dispatcher.
Yay promotion! Great for the family! Sour as all get-out for the soul. Still is. Yes, I’m a soul having a human experience, but I’m here to tell ya, this human experience has fallen on some pretty suckie times. I mean, I used to simply believe being a cubicle inmate was a bad way to go out. And, really that hasn’t changed.
Here’s where the kinda deeper conflict comes in. Cognitive dissonance, even. Existential dissonance, one might say. I have a family to take care of, and I love them, but I still refuse to believe man should be stuck in a cubicle, living to turn in spreadsheets and emails at the end of the day. It was such a simple ideal to carry when I was young and unattached.
Just about the time I am firmly convinced the upper-middle management overlords are going to finally drop the bomb on me, boot me out of the office, let me be free- I find out I’m working just hard enough to keep the job. More to come…