The high-tech life is now. Cyberware. Immersive virtual realities. Synthesized memories. Machines evolved into personalities. Life always online, and always recorded.
In the metropolis, life is defined by the Feed. The culmination of technology, it aggregates all of the world’s information into one source. It contains the social media shares, the world-wide surveillance, the propaganda of every faction, the fingerprints of every business deal. If it happened, the Feed knows.
The most powerful factions decide what parts of the Feed are available to the public. They carefully bury certain information, distort other aspects, and highlight what benefits their agenda the most. Since the Feed is seen as all information in the world, it is considered reality. What the Feed shows is what happened. While the elite can edit the public Feed, nothing can be deleted once it’s recorded. There is an entire shadow industry built around information deep diving.
When someone is born, they are given a keysync implant by a corporate sponsor. It allows them to sync with the Feed anywhere, at any time. The only cost is exposure to advertisements by their sponsor.
As the Feed advanced, humanity became concerned with the generation, presentation, and profit from information and synthetic experience. Physical labor was relegated primarily to drones and other AI. Humanity, after all, was better suited to the art of reality-design.
This digital paradise required an elaborate architecture, best provided within the metropolis. Even before the Wild attacks, the majority of humanity had migrated into urban centers.
Remote communities could not afford the same level of digital infrastructure. As a result, most rural towns depended on a single corporation to sponsor their Feed access. The bulk of their network was filled with corporate advertising and local Feed recordings, often spliced together with suboptimal tech. More traditional forms of communication were largely pushed out so the towns were forced to rely on their corporate sponsor more. These monopolies trapped them in a system of unreliable, low quality augmented reality (AR).
A number of charities and well intentioned initiatives brought cyberware to rural populations. But without nearby biomedical facilities to provide care, damaged parts often went unfixed and normal wear-and-tear diminished its effectiveness. Locals devised hacks and repairs of their own. As a result, most cyberware appears one-of-a-kind, a puzzle of original tech and patches.
As the rest of world consolidated, most people disposed of their vehicles. Some they sold to rural industries, others they dumped into remote junkyards where rural folks reclaimed and refurbished them. The production of vehicles stopped being profitable for the metropolis majority, but remained vital for the far-flung communities in the open country. Vehicles and machines are carefully cleaned and maintained. For many families, their livelihood depends on their continued mobility.
Open Spaces: open experimentation
Remote communities offered the allure of decreased regulatory oversight. Numerous corporate and government entities took advantage of this fact to establish boundary-pushing (some would say illegal) research and development facilities. For many communities, these facilities are their primary employer.
That means the town often looks away when something...problematic occurs. Maybe one day they arrive to empty livestock pens, with the gates bashed down by a creature of terrifying strength. Maybe employees fall sick too often from an undiagnosable illness. Maybe fish start going belly-up in the nearby river. Maybe a child shows up to class with a mysterious weapon, absently discarded into a waste bin.
People become very good at looking the other way when it puts food on their table. Over time, the habit of looking away seeps into the culture. And every town becomes a maze of half-truths and unspoken horrors.