Social Engineering

“Night City was like a deranged experiment in social Darwinism, designed by a bored researcher who kept one thumb permanently on the fast-forward button. "
— William Gibson, Neuromancer

If you want to know what the population of Night City is like, you need to first answer the commonplace “What’s in the water this week?”

The question is figurative and literal at the same time. Figuratively, it means “what is trendy and what are people into and how are people behaving?” Literally, it means, “what genetic modifications to everyone’s personality have been foisted on us in the food we eat, booze we drink and even the rain that (constantly) pours down onto our heads?”

Things are a little crazy. Megacorporate research discovered a few things about using drugs or bios to control a large populace:

1. Populations will adjust to sedation, and sedated workers/populations are low productivity and sometimes just die off (inconvenient for your factories.)

2. Artificial fixations are not nearly as effective as non-artificial ones. No corporation has found a drug (yet) that produces a fixated love on their corporation.** Bios and drugs to modify personalities work best with existing culture or genetic predispositions.

So in any given week, depending on what which corporation has dumped on people, there are folks waking up gay, suddenly becoming so incredibly into The Golden Girls that they’re getting plastic surgery, or desperately loving their toaster. Sometimes people “lock” into one of these personality traits. If they very lucky (as our player-characters have) they lock into a stable personality that can adapt to the mutating world around them and thrive. If they aren’t so lucky, the might find themselves locked into passionate love with an obsolete product line or only capable of feeling human emotion for Adolf Hitler (thus leading to banding together in groups of Hitler-worshippers, getting plastic surgery to look like Hitler… and inevitably going fucking berserk and killing a lot of people in a mall.)

Slang- “A Lock”
This slang refers to someone who can no longer be effected by personality manipulating drugs or bios. It is largely pejorative, as these people are outside of the flow of society now, and quite frequently become violently unstable. The player characters are all “Locks”, and ones lucky enough to have locked into a mental state that is stable and adjustable enough for them to survive/thrive in the chaos that is modern-day society.

The effects of these whimsical manipulations of society have a number of serious consequences for social institutions such as:
religion
fashion
sexual orientation
marriages
gangs
consumer behaviors

**Apple came closest to this in the early years of Social Genengineering, seeding a fanatic love of their corporation through the entire Bay Area. Unfortunately, the fanatic love, when not requited (as is impossible for the abstract concept of a corporation to actually do) turned to stalker behavior. Apple corporation was destroyed in months long sex rioting as millions of lovestruck fanboys besieged the Cupertino campus. The only surviving employee is the AI of Steve Jobs, now employed by Arasaka as a product designer in their kill-droid division.

Social Engineering

CP2053 - Shadowrun / Cyberpunk simonmaxhill