"Let me see you make decisions...
without your tele-vision,
The society of Neon Twilight will be as alien, repugnant and incomprehensible to us as our society would be to the people of the 1920s. It's vital to remember that society shapes technology as well as vice versa. Our cars may operate on similar principles to those in the 1930s, but our styling aesthetic is completely different.
Some parts of society in Neon Twilight - known as Victorians and Heartlanders - have reverted to the cherished nostalgic dream of a lost Golden Age, in which America and Europe were carefree, dominant and prosperous.
The demographic aging of the middle-classes in the Advanced countries (what's known as the First World) is a phenomena that has only recently been reversed. The first baby-boomers began retiring in the 2010s and thanks to new viral therapies and genecleansing treatments the life expectancy of the average person has increased to nearly 95 years. People are fitter (though fatter) and continue working until their late 70s, creating a huge shift of economic and political power to senior patricians who just refuse to retire.
In Europe this trend increased external EU border and immigration controls to the point that even desperate refugees were turned away in vast numbers, as was the case when the Algerian regime collapsed in 2006. The formation of the powerful Neo-Victorian society following the social upheavals of the Netcrash permanently set the ossification process. Younger people were shut out of the corridors of power and diverted to mass entertainment and the pursuit of apolitical prosperity, much as had been the case during the last several millennia. Today society in America is fragmented along ethnic and 'philosophical' lines that weren't evident in the last century.
The world is populated by 8 billion people, of which 310m are North Americans, plus more than 100m Mexicans. Of these, roughly 35m live in NorCal and SurCal, 25m in the old Canadian Territories, 8m in Free Quebec, 50m in the Heartlands, and something like 40m in the world's most intense city, the infamous Eastern Megalopolis, which stretches from Boston to Baltimore and onwards to Washington DC.
North Americans are a frustrated lot, with riches beyond measure in the hands of a few, a large but fragmented middle class, and a repressed and resentful lower-class dependent on scavenging and lot-tek solutions simply to survive. Nearly 10% of the population are locked out of the official economy, receiving no benefits and relying on black-market ingenuity to support themselves. These people are known as blanks, sometimes tolerated, often persecuted and scapegoated by normal people and megacorps alike. With the aging of the so-called 'baby boomer' population, social values have taken a sharp turn to conservative, early TwenCen modes of behaviour. The middle-classes preach the values of hard-work, frugality and religious piety even as they forget their own salad days of greed and excess.
The United States of America is such a hybrid cauldron of bubbling cultures and customs that it's hard to tell whether political fragmentation started the ethnic enclaves or whether ethnic disintegration balkanized the old American Empire. The new realities are these : white Americans (European stock) are 50% of the population, only 30% on the West Coast; brown (Hispanic) Americans are 25% of the population; black (African) Americans are 14%; yellow (Asian) Americans are 8%. These demographics have radically shifted the cultural elements of society, splintering the North American continent in politically-powerful special interest groups and independent freeholds.
Drugs & Pharmas
Since the coming of such vices as Blood-Worming and Nervers,
the ancient art of narcotics has seen a decline in numbers but
not in volatility. The United States has legalized a wide variety
of narcotics such as marijuana, heroin, LSD, and (soft) cocaine,
with surprising results. Some segments of the population remain
highly-addicted criminals, but the numbers are significantly lower
than in the TwenCen, and use of drug therapy centres combined
with 'dimming', has reduced the most susceptible groups to a
manageable level. Dimming is the practise of stimulating or (more
often) inhibiting certain brain/gland chemical imbalances, such
as those which cause the creation of serotonin ("feelgood") and
adrenaline ("flight/fight/f*ck" response). Dimming is a voluntary
therapy 'adopted' by many parents at the behest of the government
or their doctor, and it helps to condition teenagers by regulating
hormonal fluctuations. The drugs used for these procedures are
commonly known by the polite name of 'pharmas', and they come in
a wide variety of types. Pharmas are also used to 'dim' violent
inmates in prisons, and to 'stim' soldiers working in the field.
If HIV made people cautious about sex, the New Mutation made them
absolutely paranoid about everyday life. The average American today
owns more than 20 purifying devices, takes a dose of Sparkle©
each morning, wears a filmsuit under all clothing, bathes twice daily,
and has a home blood-filter for emergencies. Great Minds put their
prodigious mental powers to tracking down viral and parasitic infections
which bloom amidst the urban centers like deadly black orchids.