You ever walk down the street, lay in bed staring at the ceiling, taking a shower and wonder “What’s the meaning of all of this?” Why is it that every time we switch on our phones and open an app we are greeted by tons of advertising, marketing campaigns, and clickbait? When did we go from being humans capable of independent thought and reasoning to specks on a marketing map, having our interests chewed, and then spit back into our mouths for us?
I bet y’all are just as perplexed as I am when I am going through Snapchat stories, scrolling through Twitter, or watching Facebook videos when all of a sudden you see an ad and it speaks to the inside of your soul. Doesn’t it get creepy that you start seeing advertisements that are scary close to exactly what’s happening in your life? Well, welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 novel, ladies and gentlemen.
Everything that we do, all that we say is so highly monitored. Even those of us that try to stay away from the digital life are subject to the highest form of social pressure, each other. I go to school at a really large university where one would think diversity of thought is encouraged, but I have seen the opposite to be true. There seem to be two major schools of thought, Neoliberalism and Conservatism. Neoliberals tend to oversimplify everything and hold respectability politics to the highest regards. WRONG. Conservatives want to treat the country and the individual people in it like a business. EVEN WORSE WRONG! Those are two ideologies that appeal to the most basic of humans needs, acceptance from everyone and individual survival. So what’s the big deal? The big deal is that anyone who doesn’t fit into either of these ideologies automatically feels ostracised because our political system and the culture surrounding it are very base and two-party(ideology). Everything to Americans has to be black or white, deathly afraid of anything they can’t understand from a first glance. The perfect beings to pull the heartstrings of.
It has become so predictable what we want to consume that we have allowed the rise of the banes of our generation, Buzzfeed and Breitbart. One just has to visit these websites to see them loaded with not only politically charged content, Buzzfeed being NeoLib and Breitbart being Conservative, but advertising that is geared to a certain type of people. Visiting these websites without a bias for either shows just how enticingly monetizable our personal ideologies have become to the people in charge. Now the scariest part is what we can’t see. If the people in charge can see what sites we frequent, what content we consume, what is stopping them from controlling the news that our favorite outlets report. We have to realize that all the media we consume has already been programmed in such a way that we receive information that is deemed “ok” for us to know and consume.
Back to my 1984 analogy, let’s take a look at the four Ministries from the book itself:
1. Ministry of Love- In the book this is where political prisoners were tortured to obey Big Brother. Sound familiar? It should. How many corporations do you know that have international sweatshops support Pride? How many politicians can you name that have deprived thousands of people so that they can up their political agenda? We have to realize that everything is being done because “they” know how we react to certain stimuli and they are playing with us. Rise above the marketing!
2. Ministry of Peace- This is the ministry that was responsible for the Navy, Army, and the perpetual war Oceania was waging. Think about the Ministry’s slogan “War is Peace”. Using not too much force, and not too little, Oceania is able to maintain its wartime status, providing an excuse to harden the lives of its citizens into subordinance. Hmmm, again, familiar? How long have we been at war with Iran…or is it Iraq…Afghanistan? Pakistan???
3. Ministry of Plenty- This ministry controls the economy of Oceania, putting out falsified reports of economic boom and prosperity. Its purpose is to make the people of Oceania feel as if their work is meaningful, all the while it’s fueling nonsense or the perpetual war. With reports of such great wealth, the poor are left wondering what they have done wrong, all the while a less informed population is the easiest population to control. Now just to put things into perspective, with all the talks of loss of resources and poverty, there are 8 people in this world that control 50% of the world’s wealth. Yup, that’s right 8 people, HALF of the worlds entire wealth. Here, take a look, and don’t ever think that we don’t have the resources to feed every mouth and clothe every back:
4. Ministry of Truth- Ah, last but not least, the worst of them all, the propaganda ministry. This is the ministry whose job it is to falsify historical events to match Party agenda. Wow, it’s as if George Orwell knew what he was talking about! How many times in our adult life have we come to find out that so much of what we learned in our high school history classes were nothing more than standardized indoctrination? How many times did we reel in disgust over the atrocities “Our Great Nation” has done towards both indigenous and immigrant peoples? How long until we realize that all of our “truths” are just that, false information taught in the form of history to create patriotism? We need to wake up and realize that our reality is being warped to keep us in check.
Now, I don’t write this to be a doomsday messenger nor do I want to bring and dump negative thoughts. I write this because it is finally high time for us to realize that history is not only repeating itself, it is evolving and learning from its past mistakes. If we let the injustices of our world continue, there is no one to blame but us, us who idly stood by as the world was slowly shadowed by the blight that is our own ignorance. Wake Up.
Syed Shahzar Ahmed