BUTLER: Remembering George Orwell's 1984 in 2013
Jineea Butler | 10/30/2013, 3 p.m.
Was the book 1984 by George Orwell a required school reading for you? If it was you would know that Orwell introduced Big Brother in 1949. He told a story of a world broken up into three countries that were controlled by the government called “The Party.” The “Thought Police” used technology to invade the mind. They watched everyone and gave orders through their television sets.
Orwell wrote of a place where the news was manipulated and the people were eliminated from history and recreated with images that worked for the government. Sex was reserved for the lower class people. Marriages had to be approved and the children were produced artificially. The middle class always found ways to overthrow the upper class and the lower class watched as the masters changed back and forth.
Finally, the high class learned how to keep their permanent position by staying at war, keeping a state of emergency and using an individual’s greatest fear to eradicate individuality. They convinced the people that “War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength.” Orwell also described the lower class, which were referred to as ‘proles.’ They seemed incapable of organizing themselves, they were only concerned with trivial grievances and had no concern of larger issues. According to The Party the proles were below suspicion because they were already oppressed by the former capitalist. To The Party proles and animals were free.
Our life today resonates closely with the warning of George Orwell. My concern is we are not paying attention, as usual. After Edward Snowden leaked that the National Security Agency (NSA) lied to Congress about its surveillance practices in May of 2013, USA Today reported that sales for Orwell’s book, 1984, jumped from No. 7397 to No. 125 on Amazon’s Best Seller’s list in 24 hours. People rushed to see the similarities of what is happening today and what Orwell wrote in 1949.
When I see our life being quickly altered by events and ill-explained incidents, I think of 1984. When I see the government fighting over “the parties” and working hard to remove my privacy and civil liberties, I think of 1984. When I watch reality television and see virtually every community represented by a show, I remember 1984. Is reality television the way Big Brother is making everyone in the world comfortable with being watched? I’m sure it is.
Is my community the community Orwell is referring to as the ‘proles’, I’m sure it is. The government didn’t even include them in the conditioning process, because they were already conditioned.
We live in a world where Smart TV’s have the capacity to invade our homes without our knowledge. When I walk through the hood or ‘high crime areas,’ I see more and more police surveillance equipment, reminding us all that ‘Big Brother Is Watching . New Red Light cameras are being installed every day at another stop light.
Still we are concerned with the trivial things: Did you watch Scandal? What’s going on with Keeping up with the Kardashians? We’re watching “Love and Hip Hop,” “Real Housewives of Atlanta,” and “Basketball Wives” while wondering which Baby’s Mamas are going to fight.