by Amber Shasky
Just as there are frequent discussions about population and one’s spiritual connections to the natural environment, the idea of conceptualizing reality – utopian and dystopian – comes up a lot during our interviews. One of the primary questions behind our research is “what do our dreams and fears tell us about ourselves?” Our utopian and dystopian dreams seem to map the reality we create for ourselves.
Our cognitive responses to dystopian thoughts - depression, anxiety, and rejection of dystopian dreams - seem to dictate our interpretation of the global situation. Some interviewees discuss their dislike of any messages with negative undertones because they believe negativity will inhibit solutions and engagement. Similarly, some believe if they worry too much, they will become incapacitated and unable to create positive change. When someone voices a certain dystopian nightmare, there is a type of coping mechanism or rejection of that negative reality generated by the human psyche. When one has previously considered a reality dominated by dystopian scenarios, they reject the term “worry” and reject negative undertones.
Are utopian dreams sometimes generated from a place where one is entirely preoccupied with worrying? Or do our dystopian dreams generate cognitive dissonance? In other words, are people looking for other things to justify their own lives in order to refute the ideas generating their nightmares? It is evident by this example that our dreams do paint our realities and that utopian and dystopian dreams are tightly interwoven. But why are some hesitant to accept negativity and worry where they once held dystopian thoughts?