The Era of New Freedom
For many people, today’s digital era represents the era of new freedom and opportunities from everyday struggles. Smartphones, social media, TV shows are one of many daily activities people enjoy despite the evident lack of productivity each activity creates. Neil Postman, a social critic, foresaw similarities between the dystopian society in Aldous Huxley’s novel Brave New World and today’s technology based American culture.
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Although the novel 1984 depicts the possibility of a totalitarian government taking over individual freedom, Postman’s assertion regarding Huxley’s prediction is more accurate due to the change in perception of entertainment and happiness in the American society.
Technology in various ways serves as an outlet for expressing emotions, ideas and memories. However, such media outlets also create addictions for many due to its constant feedback and updates. Novels like Fahrenheit 451 not only provide insight to the consequences of such addictions but also predict peoples’ change in behavior due to such activities. According to the novel, technology and media propaganda will eventually create a society craving “for pleasure [and] titillation” (Bradbury 59).
Through constant diversions, the public eventually loses awareness of their surroundings, only enamored by “TV parlors” in the novel. Such dystopian societies further prove that distractions can gradually distort the truth while undermining the gravity of important situations. Pleasures found in social media and television therefore not only offer opportunities for mass exploitation but also lessens the importance of public affairs.
When interests as such are created, it is predictable that people would eventually fail to see mass threats like government corruption, wars or social issues. Ray Bradbury’s novel ultimately supports Postman’s assertion that peoples’ preoccupation with entertainment will in fact be the source of their oppression.
Similarly, peoples’ perception of happiness in modern day society and in the novel Fahrenheit 451 further proves Postman’s claim. In Huxley’s dystopian future, the public obtains pleasure through sex, drugs and privileges. Likewise, in today’s society, people prefer to escape reality and struggles through various forms of hedonism and indulgences. Sadly, the intake of drugs and other substances to seek fulfillment is normalized in today’s youth. The media’s propaganda of alcohol, drug usage and sexual activity through Hollywood, social media and magazines are standard in many peoples’ lives today.
Moreover, the public falls for such distractions to evade daily issues or confrontations not worth overcoming. In fact, the novel Fahrenheit 451 focuses on the aftermath of such practices and the possible temptations entertainment based propaganda will impose. In the novel, many characters would rather ignore the brainwashed reality, only to “be separated out in different [TV] parlors, with no contact between” each other (Bradbury 104).
Eventually, social interaction itself becomes rare as people become fixated on all forms of technological devices for happiness. Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 are one of many possibilities of America’s future societies that fulfil Postman’s assertion. The present entertainment industry and cultural normalcies not only indicates that Huxley’s vision is more applicable to modern day society but proves that entertainment based pleasures have more power than government authority. While George Orwell’s 1984 predicts the government’s totalitarian domination through media propaganda, both Huxley and Bradbury’s novels refute such methods.
In the twenty first century, modern technology allows the possibilities of advancements in communication, entertainment and resource access. However, entertainments that are found in such technologies ranging from social media to TV networks also allow the oppression of human capabilities by reducing interaction. While Orwell’s 1984 foresee the possibilities of tyrannical subjugation, Postman’s assertion regarding Huxley’s futuristic society not only seems applicable to in this era but in action as well.