Dystopia and the Modern World
Every generation has a hint of the narcissist, and a sense of the grandiose. They believe that they are somehow special, while other generations are somehow ruining the world. Be it by killing off the language, with their “reliance on technology”, as the older generation is apt to say of the younger generation. Or the lack of financial opportunity in the new economy that the younger generation blames on the older generation.
It’s no wonder tales of doom and dystopian ideas have always fascinated us. They are the captive thoughts of the collective subconscious that make us listen to the doomsday predictions we know have no substance, and indulge in absurd horror films plagued with plot holes. They feed some inner desire within us to be the protagonist and with subtle sophistry we convince ourselves that we could never be the antagonist, and that we will never fail. Everyone thinks they will survive the zombie apocalypse.
Dystopian novels such as 1984, and Brave New World serve not only as speculative entertainment, but also as satires of ourselves and our present society. They question us and show us a potentially disastrous future (exaggerated, of course) if we continue to stay on the path we are on.
1984 shows the power that language has to shape our perception of reality. Language is a reflection of our thoughts, and when we use simple language, it reflects simple thoughts. As a nation, we see throughout the media repeated phrases like “the war on drugs” or “the war on terror”. Everyone has heard these phrases before, but they are so vague, they could take on multiple meanings. They no longer convey significance, they are only mental shortcuts, excuses to be lazy, instead of thinking for the right choice of words to reflect what is actually meant.
The same goes for the information that we choice to ingest. As students we should understand that not all media is the same, and not all sources are equally credible. There is a huge difference between information found on a personal blog and information found on a government website. Yet we engage in passive thought by simply re-tweeting or liking posts instead of thinking what they mean.
Brave new world shows us the dangers of indulging in material possession, ourselves, and in the now. In the novel, the characters shut their eyes and ears to their conflicts and problems, they pretend that everything is fine. We do the same thing as a whole, we find it easier to blame others or to pretend problems don’t affect us rather than do something to change it.
Instead of demanding change and taking issues to the streets in protest, we have become armchair activists. Like the characters in Brave New World, we have growth apathetic surround by our comforts. Given the whole potential and power of the internet, we choice to cater to a quick laugh, or mindless gossip. We could use it to for change like the Arab Spring, but we don’t. Society will take the direction that we give it. And we are leading it nowhere.
We ourselves are too caught up in our society to see large patterns. As actors, we cannot see the larger play at hand. No one admits to being the problem. But look at our reliance on cheap labor in Asia. The loss of food in developing nations created by our use of bio-fuels. The invasive species created by our global commerce. The pollution created by our electricity. Just like the German people during World War II, many of us don’t see, or don’t want to see what we are doing to the world.
We tell ourselves that we are special, that others are doing it. We are the protagonist, we will survive the apocalypse.
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