George Lucas’ 1971 dystopian view of the technologically controlled industrial society, THX-1138, envisioned the the merging of the big data / surveillance state, the big industrialization state, the robot controlled police state, and the sedation of the populace. In the below excerpt, members of this dystopian society open their medicine cabinet to a face of a camera and an upbeat voice asking, “What’s wrong?”
We can debate the trajectory and pace of our 21st century democracy toward, or away from, Lucas’ 25th century dystopia. If current trends continue, there will be one significant difference from Lucas’ medical control of the population hypothesis: Our society is on track for the private medicalization of the citizenry. There are white markets (big pharma and media), gray markets (legalized alcohol and marijuana), and black markets (illegal drugs such as opioids (see below)).
Today’s Times charts the increased rate of overall usage and long-term dependence on anti-depressants.
Long-Term Antidepressant Usage
Source: NYT 4/8/18.
Opioid Related Deaths, 2015
Source: The Economist.com, 4/8/18.
Drug Deaths by Race
Source: NYT 12/22/17.
See also this blog post on urban v. rural differences in emergency room admissions by substance type.