Where Dreams Lead: Underground

    On the calendar March 12, 2040. The time is 5.30. I, a twenty-year-old student of history, have an important day today. In the evening, my first performance in the underground will take place, and I really want it to be successful. The theme is “Where do the dreams or results of the fourth industrial revolution lead”. And although in recent years there have been a lot of different opinions about this, I hope to please the audience with at least a couple of fresh ideas.

    I do not want to give a banal lecture, but I will build a dialogue with my audience. I have a speech plan, a draft of the beginning and 12 blocks devoted to various problems. But the sequence of parts of the speech depends largely on contact with the audience, as well as the time that I will devote to one or another block. Yes, and I’m unlikely to have time to reveal all 12 topics - most likely there will be no more than 9. However, I am sure that non-linearity will make my story more interesting and lively, revealing primarily those questions that interest my listeners. And although the success of the performance depends largely on improvisation, but this format requires careful consideration of all parts of the performance. Separate puzzles in the end should fit into the picture. Perhaps that’s why I can’t sleep so early. It is necessary to streamline thoughts, once again put everything on the shelves. Dziennik.

    Underground is an international network of clubs that emphasize the importance of real communication. Young musicians, magicians, comedians, philosophers find here their most devoted audience. Ten years ago, there was a lot of talk that online would completely destroy live performances, but a huge number of people lack it most in life. Many here are trying to make up for this shortcoming.

    The rooms of the underground are lined with material that does not transmit radio waves, and the people at the entrance pass their gadgets. One has only to get his hidden phone or bracelet while in the club, a siren begins to howl in the room, and a tidy sum is debited from the bank account of the offender. Yes, there is a bitter irony in that the same digital “Big Brother” helps to combat Internet addiction. But without surveillance cameras, any public space will not receive a license to conduct its activities for a long time.

    Therefore, the management of the underground network decided to use this inevitable evil for the benefit of the concept of the institution. In truth, this siren has always caused a lot of controversy among both employees and visitors. But this way provides not only freedom from gadgets, but also privacy. After all, the data of surveillance cameras do not fall into open access, and visitors lose the opportunity to conduct unauthorized filming. Everything that happens in the underground remains in the underground. However, just three years ago, scanning frames were installed at all the entrance to all clubs, and the dispute over fines and sirens in the Liberty Reserve turned into a purely theoretical plane.

    Be that as it may, but the Underground allows you to go as far away from the computerized world as it is generally possible in a megalopolis. They still accept cash here, although guests usually pay with a fingerprint anyway.

    For most of my friends, going out without gadgets is tantamount to appearing in public naked, blind, and with wild heroin breaking. Refusing smart devices for a few evening hours is a real personal challenge. Of course, then you get used to several hours offline, and even more - this becomes a new need.

    So, around these cafes, their own subculture was formed, the members of which at least several times a month arrange for themselves “digital unloading” in the company of close people and like-minded people.

    From digital technology, speakers use only microphones and occasionally projectors. The music is played either by live musicians, or vinyl sounds. Yes, the demand for warm tube sound has not disappeared even in the middle of the 21st century. Like real books. The underground network is one of the best bookcrossing centers operating today.

    Each of hundreds of Undergrounds is distinguished by some special color. The decoration of the premises is usually dominated by wood and stone. However, the interior design is quite eclectic and inspired by a variety of eras. But among all the styles, the most common is British colonial. This is a hint at the fact that the underground is not only free from digital shackles, but here you can remove the collar of political correctness. Jokes about blacks, feminists and gays here come to the public as well as in the good old days.

    Of course, the creators of the underground walk on damn thin ice. A scandal broke out around the world with the opening of the “Bunker” in Berlin in 2036. The design of this club repeated the interior of Hitler’s rooms, with imperial eagles and swastikas on the walls. A couple of years before, a right-wing-right party came to power in Germany, which promised to restore the greatness of this country and improve its shaky position in the world. They revised the 86th paragraph of the German Criminal Code, which prohibited the use of symbols of Nazi organizations, saying that the Germans should not have less freedom than in the United States. But this law split German society.

    Representatives of the Underground were among those who said that almost a hundred years after the fall of the Nazi regime, the ideology of the Third Reich had long posed no real danger. And this is by no means an attempt to justify or cast doubt on the crimes of the Nazis, just his ideas are outdated and finally gone. And in the past, the underground knew how to make money.

    The network of retroclubs emphasized that the “Bunker” is just another institution on the theme of the turbulent XX century. After all, the Roman emperors, Ottoman sultans or Spanish conquistadors had a lot of blood, but nevertheless, the style of those times was not taboo in popular culture. The aesthetics of the Third Reich was only to create an atmosphere of decadence and play on fears about the decline of society. In the first year, any photography was banned there, but too many people all over the world were angered by the news of zigging waiters and visitors in SS costumes.
    Opponents threatened to launch a global boycott of the Underground, involving parliaments and governments of several countries. The loudest performed in Israel and Russia. Not wanting to lose these markets, the underground brought the “Bunker” out of its network and it was turned into an independent institution. However, all these permutations had little effect on the number of visits to the most scandalous place in Germany.

    In general, the Undergrounds were originally institutions focused on conducting workshops, stand-ups, and literary evenings. Later, regular screenings of old films were added to them. Of course, visitors were offered a wide range of board games - from chess and dominoes to Monopoly and table football. As a rule, only weak drinks like beer, ale and wine are available from alcohol. Yet such clubs are not intended to get drunk on them. Also in most establishments you can order cigars and hookah.

    The first regulars of the Undergrounds were self-righteous intellectuals mainly from the humanities. They needed their own "Ivory Tower", where you can protect yourself from the digital fuss. Many of this audience continued to go to theaters even in the third decade of the 21st century. But why do we need old-fashioned theater performances in the heyday of home digital entertainment? The creators of the underground gave a banal answer - they go to the theater not so much for the performance itself, but for the atmosphere of the theater. Therefore, it was the theater-goers who first found the targeting of this network. Following them, the underground advertising reached visitors to art galleries and museums. A little later, the underground began to attract the attention of lovers of rare equipment, as well as steampunk and diesel punk. Yes, some establishments have been devoted to these genres.

    The success of the underground was accompanied by another trend - towards the mid-2020s. The fashion for film photography has returned. Several startups revived film production, and many photographers began to promote analog shooting as a particularly exclusive service. In the Undergrounds, “red rooms” quickly appeared for the manifestation of photographs, and all the public photo chronicle in these institutions was conducted only on tape.

    It quickly became clear that measured broad-based entertainment without gadgets in a vintage setting was liked by rather wide sections of society. In order to preserve the conceived atmosphere of the institutions, a dress code and age restrictions were introduced. Although the requirements for appearance were quite strict, the Underground was ready to provide the appropriate clothing for rent. True, the LGBTKIA + representatives, whose gender identity sometimes did not fit into the binary framework of past eras, were dissatisfied with the dress code. Entrance of children also had to be limited. The children too often made noise, made tantrums because of the selected gadgets and tried to bring them in a variety of ways. Crying babies, their constant problems with the toilet, which became especially noticeable against the backdrop of the popularity of the movement opposing diapers, public breastfeeding - all this did not fit into the atmosphere of the underground. As a result, entry became possible only from the age of 14.

    But over time, the underground network began to expand and encompass new areas of leisure. Institutions began to be divided into different categories. Along with the familiar “white” Undergrounds, “black” appeared, where they sell strong alcohol and marijuana. Yes, the “black” Undergrounds do not pretend to be particularly intelligent, but they are taking full advantage of the absence of unwanted photos from crazy parties.

    In 2035, another pretentious underground was opened - Studio 54 in New York, which recreated the atmosphere and interior of the legendary club of the 1970s. The year before, a landmark vote was held at the UN General Assembly, at which most countries decided to end the war on drugs. The turnover of previously banned substances was taken under control by state authorities, and medicine learned how to use anti-drug vaccines to remove dependence, which became a revolution in narcology.
    Law enforcement agencies continued to harass the black market, but demand for illegal substances from artisanal producers fell sharply, and the total public security system made their illicit trafficking too complicated.

    The Black Undergrounds were one of the first establishments to be licensed to sell ecstasy, amphetamines and cocaine. It is forbidden to take drugs from the club. Admission is strictly from 18 years. The musical theme of the clubs is very different, from jazz to techno, disco and hard rock, and far from all these institutions bother with freedom from holograms and analog equipment.

    But the most scandalous were the revived censers of opium. It was with the abuse of opium that modern addiction began, later it became the basis for even harder drugs - morphine and heroin. They were the real scourge of the twentieth century, and under the "addiction" most often meant precisely dependence on opioids. The main feature of these substances is their rapid provocation of severe physical dependence. By the beginning of the XXI century, heroin became almost inevitably led to the degradation of the individual, falling to the social bottom and subsequent painful death. But it was caused not only by the action of the drug itself, but also by the existing social policy. Drug addicts did not have access to an effective and humane treatment of their addiction, they had constant problems with the law, picked up hepatitis and HIV, and the most desperate switched to a makeshift crocodile. But when in the early 2020s. doctors learned to block the action of heroin in the body with the help of vaccines, the fear of this drug began to subside. When a relatively reliable way to get off the needle appeared, heroin chic became fashionable again. So, while still completely banned, heroin experienced a surge in popularity in the mid-2020s.

    Reducing the danger from opiates has launched a process of gradual legalization. And although so far no one has decided on the free sale of heroin, but he has already returned to medicine, though he managed to occupy only a very narrow niche in it. However, many countries still allowed the use of opium in special institutions. Obtaining the right to trade in opium is not easy, but the Underground has secured several coveted licenses. After that, the company built opium censers in the form of real palaces of vice, stylized as chambers of the Asian rulers of the Victorian era. Indeed, it was during the time of Queen Victoria of England that the legal trade in opium reached its peak, but in the West it was still perceived by many as a mysterious potion from mysterious Asia.

    It is difficult for me to imagine the cultural shock that a law-abiding person would experience even from the beginning of the 21st century from such orders. However, with all the current freedom, it must be remembered that if a person has problems with drugs, they will no longer be allowed into black clubs, and the System will use the stick and carrot method to send the drug addict for treatment. Persistent refusal of treatment may result in loss of social insurance and with a high probability will end in imprisonment, where the drug addict will still overtake medicine. However, at the same time, medical care itself is humane and effective, actively uses compensators and substitution therapy, and a visit to a narcologist is devoid of public stigma.

    And most importantly, the most problematic addiction of our time is far from addiction. Even the majority of conservatives believe that it is better for young people to use drugs from time to time in clubs than to become safe in virtual reality. Be that as it may, narcotic substances have always been an element of human society, while online addiction can finally transform humanity into an appendage to cars.

    “Enough to run. We are already in the future. Enjoy the moment. ” This famous Underground slogan perfectly conveys the spirit of our era. The main question of modern civilization: “And where do we want to move on?” Mankind has defeated almost all diseases, created sustainable energy, landed man on Mars and began to extract resources on asteroids. The fourth industrial revolution was a success, but the future is as foggy as ever. Development at the same pace will make mankind helpless before the power of intelligent machines for some 15-20 years. Isn’t it time for us to find a stop crane and stop?

    This text is not a propaganda of Nazism or drugs, but just a fantasy on the future, where events take place in an alternative reality.

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