I have started to reread the book by George Orwell, 1984. I read it in high school, but it has been over 20 years. I am about half way through it. Today’s reading was very eye opening.
For those of you that don’t remember the story line here is a brief overview: In the year 1984, London is ruled by Big Brother and the Thought Police. There are two classes of people: the Party and the Proles (lower class). Those in the Party are required to wear blue overalls, go with the flow, drink only gin, believe everything they are told, and have a telescreen in their homes so that the government can monitor their every movement. If they are thought to be a threat, then they are vaporized (wiped out of existence as if they never existed). The past is changed and books are rewritten so that Big Brother is never wrong. No one cares about the Proles. They can do what they want because they are ignorant about the fact that they could rule if they would only organize.
I had a revelation today….we are very much like the book 1984. No, we don’t all wear overalls and don’t have a two way monitor in our homes so that we can be monitored 24/7. But there are many similarities:
1. The screens in our homes aren’t for the government to monitor us, but we are constantly in front of a screen, whether it be an ipad, smart phone, computer monitor or television.
2. We believe what the government tells us: cigarettes are good…now they are bad. DDT is good…now it is bad. The FDA tells us what medicines and food are okay for us to use….until they discover that it is unhealthy. One country or person is evil without us truly knowing. There is so much corruptness going on in Washington, but most of us turn a blind eye to it. I know I do. Mainly because I feel that my opinions don’t change anything. It really just infuriates me, therefore, I would rather not know.
3. We don’t wear blue overalls, but we all are little clones of each other. There are slight variations of dress, but for the most part, we wear what is in style and you can tell a person’s class by the types of clothing that they wear.
4. The government does monitor those that they feel are a threat to our “security”. We leave an electronic trail that is amazingly direct and concise. Just look at the advertising on your Facebook page. They know what you like and what you might possibly buy based on your profile. Scary stuff!
5. In the book they speak and write “newspeak”. They dictate everything into a transcription machine. No one uses real paper and pens anymore. They don’t even speak real English. They use slang and half words to get their meanings across. Funny, we all use short hand in texts and emails, rarely typing out the whole word or using correct punctuation.
6. We are all like the Proles. Many people don’t think that their one vote counts or that they can make a difference to change the future so they do nothing. But if everyone would rally around one cause and take a stand, the future could be changed and one particular group of people could either rule or change the rules. But, like the Proles, we go about our daily lives and are satisfied with the way things are instead of striving to make the next day better.
As I was reading my paperback copy of 1984, a man walked by me and said, “It is nice to see someone reading a real book and not an iPad or Kindle. It feels good to hold the paper doesn’t it?” Immediately I felt like Winston, the main character of the book, who secretly and illegally acquired a paper diary and a pen so that he could feel real paper and write real words. Again….so many similarities between 2013 and 1984.
Mrs. Martin, my 10th grade English teacher, would be so proud….