Northwest Horizons

Dystopian literature parallels current society

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Along with the Trump era came the ascent of George Orwell’s 1949 novel “1984” back to the top of the bestseller list. Maybe people saw it as a direct parallel to what we are currently living or maybe they saw it as a joke. We may never know, but an investigation into the similarities between dystopian literature and today’s world is seemingly necessary.

“I think lately we have been talking about net neutrality and you can tie that in very well with ‘1984,’” English teacher Alex Wertz said.

In today’s day and age, there is an attachment to technology that has never been there before. In “1984,” the telescreens, much like a government controlled version of the television, are everywhere. They are in every room and on every street listening, watching and broadcasting. There is a constant stream of propaganda coming from them that is fed to the population at all times.

With the recent repeal of net neutrality, many question if our devices will turn into telescreens. They won’t necessarily just show government propaganda, but companies will be able to censor what is on the internet, forcing the public to only be exposed to certain opinions or beliefs.

Looking at pop culture, the novella “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury shows an extreme view on what technology can lead to. There are multitudes of studies out there that talk about the excessive screens time people get these days and how it affects social interactions and communication abilities.

The characters in “Fahrenheit 451″ are obsessed with technology. They want the walls to be TVs and everyone walks around with earbuds in at all times.

“None of these things existed when the book was written, but they all exist now and people walk around with the earbuds in staring at their screens all of the time and get super engaged in reality TV,” Wertz said. “In some of those ways, it is a little scary to see how those predictions have come true.”

Similarly, consumerism has also become a major part of today’s society. Most people have more than they need of just about everything and our landfills are overflowing with last year’s trendy items.

In “Brave New World” where Huxley argues about the rise of consumerism and how consumerism takes the place of some of the staple values that most families in this country used to hold really close is also really relevant today.

However, when one thinks of an all-powerful, destructive government, it’s Orwell’s “1984,” and the omnipresent Big Brother.

Trump, like Big Brother, is able to seemingly do anything he wants without reprimand or even thought of consequences.

His blind and blatant disregard for the truth aligns him with such a character. He lies and makes promises that are quite unfulfillable. The people on the receiving end of these lies either cower in fear, stammer in disbelief or cheer mightily at what great things he is doing.

“Trump and his egregious policies are really similar to Big Brother,” senior Alex White said.

He does not hesitate to threaten or use bully-like tactics to get what he wants, and when things don’t go his way, he is unable to withhold his rage-filled tone, along with all its condescending vanity that seems to accompany the elite class in both today’s society and that of “1984.” The Inner Party, much like the top 1 percent, have all the lavish things in life. They have nice apartments, less manual labor and the ability to escape the prying eye of the television. They are separate and most definitely not equal, especially when compared to the lowest class, the Proles.

These class distinctions are very obvious throughout the book and uncannily similar to our situation today.

“Similar to our world, there are very distinct class distinctions between the Proles, Outer Party and Inner Party,” senior Kylee Palombo said. “I think they directly align with the lower, middles and upper class in today’s society.”

The parallels of dystopian literature to today’s society are obvious to some and far-fetched to others, but overall, the extreme ideologies of dystopian writers serve as a warning for what is possible.

The question is, when will we pay heed to their warnings?

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Dystopian literature parallels current society