Who Gets to Decide What the Future Looks Like?

I’m doing my best to get through my summer reading list. I overloaded myself with non-fiction. Loved Switch, Chip and Dan Heath’s new book. Found Clay Shirky’s new title, Cognitive Surplus to be a twirl on the dance floor of what’s possible for digital culture. I started to sound like an insufferable smarty-pants. I needed some fiction.

So I just cracked the Kindle spine of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and am enthralled. It’s a novel aimed at young adults that predicts a future world of vast underemployment. Only a narrow elite prosper. The reality TV blockbuster is a game where teenagers starve themselves to the death.

It’s one of a few YA novels I’ve read recently, including Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother, where the logical assumption is that the future is grim, immoral morass ruled by autocrats. Adult writers of books for young people don’t seem to hold out much hope for the future. It makes me wonder. How much do dystopian expressions in books or movies, shape young people’s sense of efficacy? Are we inspiring them to give up hope?