When I read all the non-boring parts of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four while blasting Papa Roach and chatting on ICQ, my life changed. Thought control, endless government surveillance, and the fact that we could read books with sex in them at school all had an incredible impact on my young mind. Years later, I look around America and worry that the country I love is turning into the fictional country that I’m confident I remember pretty well, on the whole.
For example, you may have seen my recent Facebook post where I attached the words “The people will not revolt. They will not look up from their screens long enough to notice what’s happening” to a picture of teenagers looking at their phones. Those words, for those of you less well-read than I, are from Nineteen Eighty-Four. And the screens in the book serve the exact same purpose and offer the exact same content that phones do today, I think. The point is that George Orwell thought teenagers were dumb. Has it occurred to you that you just learned all of this from a screen? Think about that.
Even though I use social media, I make sure to constantly question it because, in many ways, social media is just like Big Brother, which is the name of either the leader or the government in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Big Brother is always trying to control what the people read. And isn’t social media always trying to control what you read? Not to mention that online slang like “LOL” and “bae” are reminiscent of Newspeak which, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, are the words the “news” speaks. It’s a simplified language with words like “groupthink,” which Big Brother either encourages or discourages. So maybe we should all read less Facebook and more book books, which Big Brother ordered burned. Or maybe banned. It was something bad.
That’s because books, as Nineteen Eighty-Four taught me, contain knowledge. One might even say that modern attempts to ban books are positively Orwellian. Oh, pardon me. Orwellian, as I often explain to the women I date, is derived from George Orwell’s name. After reading Nineteen Eighty-Four, you may look at a government espionage program or a video game company banning people from expressing their political beliefs in their games and describe it as Orwellian. Did you know that, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, free speech is illegal? Think about that the next time you object to someone expressing their thoughts about the inferiority of a race or gender in America. That’s just what the Thought Police did. In my education opinion, modern Americans have become their own Thought Police. That is bad.
Near the end of Nineteen Eighty-Four, the villainous Chief O’Brien says “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever.” That boot belongs to the government, which is why I’m a libertarian. Did you know that George Orwell hated socialism? That’s why the political system in Nineteen Eighty-Four is called Dingsoc, which is short for something I’ve forgotten and then socialism. This opinion is expressed more clearly in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, which I’ve also read. I’ve got some thoughts on it, if you’d like to hear them.