Definition of Dystopia: (adapted from Wikipedia)
In literature, dystopia refers to a futuristic society that has degraded into a repressive and controlled state often under the guise of being utopian. Dystopian literature has underlying cautionary tones, warning society that if we continue to live as we do, this kind of future might be the consequence. A dystopia, thus, is regarded as a sort of negative utopia and is often characterized by an authoritarian or totalitarian form of government.
Common components of dystopia:
• Repressive social control/lack of individual freedom
• Constant warfare--often used as rationale for the sacrafice of personal freedom.
• Human values threatened by technology—technology evolves faster than human capacity to understand how to use it appropriately.
In some literature and films the above are imposed upon the society. Often--and perhaps more frightening--it becomes clear in some dystopian fictions that the society somehow chose this course—or failed to choose a healthier course—and bargained away incrementally what we currently value (what we say we value?) in human life and society. They bargain away freedom in exchange for security. They bargain away genuine human interaction in exchange for technological convenience, etc. (Does this perhaps sound familiar, my dear zombie children who are enslaved by cell phone and facebook?)