War is peace
Freedom is slavery
Ignorance is strength
People who know their classics must have already recognised this infamous quote, out of George Orwell’s 1984.
The dystopian novel depicts life as Orwell thought it would (or could) be in the 84’s. Given that he wrote this book in 1949 and he had no clue whatsoever how western society would develop throughout the ages, you could dismiss this book as an interesting, but unreliable account, highly influenced by the reign of terror which marked not only Orwell’s life, but the whole nineteenth century. And of course, you could say that nazism and communism are no longer present in western countries like ours and that, therefore, the book is of no use for modern days.
So why would I start this new blog with an old book quote like that?
Apart from the fact that I absolutely loved reading 1984 (as you might have already read in my previous posts), I actually do think we can learn something of it.
What fascinated me the most about 1984 is the fact that Orwell managed to create a novel that was so far ahead of its time. The issues he described in his book are still of great significance now. Not really convinced? I’ll show you.
How? By making a 1984 parody, titled – how could it be otherwise – “2016”.
Note: please don’t think I’m an overall pessimist when it comes to modern society. I’ve exaggerated lots of things and I just intended to write a nice “remake” of Orwell’s novel that is more in accordance with the way things could be in our community, not an account of all the things that go wrong in our community.
It was a cold and cloudy day and the clocks were striking twenty-one.
He made it inside of his apartment just in time, before the first raindrops could hit his bald skull.
Having entered the seven story building, he descended the first flight of stairs. After every 10 steps, there was a small landing, with a camera fastened to the white plastered wall, tracking down any movement and saving it in the database.
It made him feel safe, since he wasn’t so sure if his new neighbours could be trusted. With the camera installment in their living room and his daughter’s bedroom, he could go to sleep without having to worry, knowing that his 6 going on 7 year old’s privacy would be protected.
Privacy is everything.
Privacy is nothing.
His daughter would learn this principle soon enough.
Outside, the world looked gloomy. When he opened the window to let some fresh, crispy air into his apartment, he could hear voices. They were yelling, screaming at the top of their longs. A little crowd had gathered at the porch of the building, holding up signs with big, bold letters and moving slowly towards the giant square at the end of the street.
It had become almost a daily thing.
Whenever people watched the news, there would be something going on in the world they heartily disagreed with.
Take for example the minimum wages or the position of women in society.
Most of the time he had to say he actually agreed with their demands for righteousness and equality.
However, there would always be some fools amongst them who tried to show their anger by using violence.
Eventually a whole corps of policemen would show up to put the outrageous people to a halt.
After some fighting, some screaming and some crying it would all be over and it would all be as if nothing every happened. Except for the fact that the next day, they would watch the news again, get upset about all the wrongs in the world and hit the streets…
He rubbed his bald head and let out a sigh of despair.
It seemed to him that there would always be some sort of war going on. Not only physically in the streets, but mentally – our own minds would always cringe over the slightest form of injustice. It was an ongoing war in our heads – wanting to change society, but never being able to.
Injustice will always be part of the way we live. He thought. But people like to think otherwise.
That’s why there will always be a demand for violence, for protests, for war. It’s the only way people know to defend their peace. Peace will always be synonymous with war.
He sat down in his sofa and leaned back. With his daughter being asleep, he could finally have some time for himself.
He could watch some tv perhaps, or read a book. He was free to do anything he liked.
It was not until he turned on the tv before he realised how false this assumption was.
First of all, he could feel the watchful eye of one of his cameras on his back. It made him feel so uncomfortable that he decided to move his seat to a corner of the room where he was sure no camera could ever track him.
Second of all, the things he saw on tv couldn’t please him. Commercial after commercial showed up and he was just about to switch to another channel, when he heard a tune he vaguely recognised.
Of course! His mobile phone. He fished the phone out of his pocket and answered with a grumpy “What now?”
He heard a cough on the other end of the line, followed by a voice which sounded not at all amused.
“You’d better watch your tone, Smith, this is serious business.”
He was so shocked he almost let his phone drop. He hadn’t expected his boss to call him at this time of day.
“I am so sorry. I didn’t know you…”
“Never mind,” the voice interrupted. “I just call you to say your working overnight tomorrow.”
“I am what?”
“You heard me, Smith. You know I told you in your last performance review you had to do more night shifts, that I can’t afford it to employ any jobhoppers and that I thus want you to take this job seriously…”
“I am serious! One hundred percent serious. I am not a jobhopper, I want to make a career here…”
“Then I see you tomorrow, Smith.”
“I can’t. I’ve got a daughter that’s turning seven tomorrow. I promised her that she could invite some friends for a sleepover and I can’t fix anything with her mother, because she’s currently in America…”
“You can’t arrange a babysitter?”
“It’s her birthday. I can’t choose between her and my work…”
“Well, the funny thing is that you actually need a job to feed the little monster. However, I don’t need you to do a night shift. If you can’t take this job seriously, I will find someone else to do it.”
“Please, find someone else. I don’t want to mess up my daughter’s seventh birthday, you know. She means the world to me and I knew she wouldn’t forgive me if I…”
“I will, don’t worry.”
“Thank you so much, I appreciate your…”
“You’re fired, Smith.”
And he hung up.
Smith’s trembling hands put his old Nokia back in his pocket, found the tv remote and turned off the tv.
He stood up, his legs shaking, walked up and down the room and knew that the camera watched every move he made and could even capture the bewildered look on his face.
Let’s put things straight. His daughter was going to have an awesome party. She would have a giant cake and a lot of garlands, full of lights and flowers which he had bought of his last salary.
He knew he shouldn’t have. Right now he realised he had gone too far. He had been running low on money for some time now. He could just pay the rent of his cramped apartment.
Of course he had to buy the cameras. As if they weren’t expensive. He looked at the sofa. No, that sofa hadn’t been cheap either, just like his flat screen tv.
It’s just that he felt like he could afford this. This life, this little family, this freedom.
Turned out that freedom was not only super expensive, but also unsatisfactory.
Hadn’t he just a minute ago been extremely grumpy for not knowing what to watch on tv? Not knowing how to spend the little free time that he had had?
His urge to be free had resulted in not knowing how to be free at all. He had spent all of his freedom on worthless objects.
Freedom had made him a slave. And now he had nothing at all anymore.