And I'm asking: are they really all that different?
You might raise your eyebrows and think “Susanne, are you nuts? They are opposites. One is good and one is bad!”
And if I just took a look at the definitions I found on thefreedictionary.com then I'd have to agree with you.
Utopia : An ideally perfect place, especially in its social, political, and moral aspects.
Dystopia: An imaginary place or state in which the condition of life is extremely bad, as from deprivation, oppression, or terror.
Good and bad. It's that easy, isn't it?
Isn't every possible utopia a dystopia in disguise?
Most dystopian societies masquerade themselves as utopias. The government wants people to believe their society is perfect, that it's the utopia everyone's striving for. Take MATCHED for example. People are happier because everyone's wearing plainclothes, because the society finds the perfect match for you (no divorces!) and the perfect job too. Society makes choices for you to ensure happiness and most people in Matched don't mind. For them it is their personal utopia.
Dystopia pretends to be the perfect society.
Utopia is that perfect society.
But aren't they ultimately the same?
I'm wondering, can a true Utopia really exist? Or wouldn't every attempt at an utopia inevitably end in a dystopia? Because how can you ensure food and work and a home and family for everyone without controlling every aspect of life, without taking away personal freedom?
And doesn't every individual have a different idea of happiness and perfect life? How can you create a society that makes everyone or even the majority of people happy?
Personally, I don't think humans could settle for a state of happiness without wanting more or something else. After all, we always want what we can't have, right?
So what do you think? Is Utopia ultimately a Dystopia in disguise? Or am I too pessimistic?
About me: I'm Susanne Winnacker, author of upcoming YA dystopian novel THE OTHER LIFE, in which a girl leaves a sealed bunker after years in hiding, only to find Los Angeles devastated and haunted by humans infected with a mutated rabies virus; struggling to save her family, she falls for a boy-hunter who is both their savior and greatest danger when his desire for vengeance threatens them all. Find me on my blog, twitter or website.