Cyberpunk is dead. And we have killed it.
The Net. Cybernetics. The very things that could have been humanity's deliverance has unfortunately been commodified and taken over by capitalism's fetish for stripping aesthetics of their message, leaving only image and simulacra. It now joins the ranks of the conservative 50's, the hippie movement of the 60's, and other quasi-nostalgic artifacts that remain as simply a vehicle for corporations to sell you material objects to impress people you've never met.
And in that stripping of the aesthetic, cyberpunk is stuck in a perpetual cycle, refusing to evolve as the same tropes are recycled, repackaged, and become copies of copies of what could have been.
Cyberpunk as an aesthetic tool, was once a tool to examine present pop culture phenomena using the lens of a lost future. In layman's terms, it outlined how to not wind up in a dystopian future by highlighting concerns in the everyday present.
Pretty lights? 80's synthwave music? Do you really think that when the climate war is lost and more than half of the planet lies underwater or uninhabitable, we, the socially marginalized are going to give a shit about pretty neon lights? That's a luxury only for the few. The pigs at the top, already so far removed from actual society, will physically live miles above us.
As to say, “That's right. We do hate you. Do you get it now? After all this time?”
Wage disparity and a future stolen from us by the people who would gain to profit from a mass tragedy such as this collapse will strike nihilism into the hearts of the many. And we, the used tampon of the world, will suffer all of the consequences.
Our world will be dominated by black market AI, mafia law, pre-packaged food, dirty water, crusty walls dripping with mold, and ear shattering rabble from the millions of people packed into one tiny space. It won't be fun, or a goddamn video game. It will be our worst nightmare. And it will be our everyday. Tick tock.
But in this chaos and loss, we can still find the core values that make the human spirit the rebellious force that shines with the same brightness that lit the stars – compassion, Love, and the unseen phenomena that binds our souls together like a yarn throughout all time and space.
To labor through the slummy present, seeking out the humanity still in many people's hearts, broken, but alive. To find Meaning amongst the dangers and ever-present violence. To look a loved one in the eye and have the hellscape fall away in your peripherals. These are always at our fingertips, if we pay attention.
High tech, low life. If we are the lowlifes of the world, then so be it. That only defines the ethos of the worldview, not the strength of the individual, or the revolutionary nature of the human soul. That soul which meets cruelty with mutiny - may it tear down the pillars of tyranny that ravaged a beautiful future of endless possibilities. Here's to the radical lovers, the insurgent martyrs, and to the everyday man.
That, is the nature of cyberpunk.