Hello everyone, my name is Jemima and welcome to today’s bookish video. I like books and sometimes things tug at me while reading and I feel I want to share and discuss my thoughts. I learn a lot of valuable life lessons from books, it is such an enriching experience. Today I am going to share my thoughts about my most recent read 1984 by George Orwell; and why it has made me scared I live in a world with no privacy.
I started reading 1984 not really knowing what to expect. I remember it was one of a couple books that was recommended to me when I was studying English in college along with Animal Farm, I was told they were both must reads. I got around to reading Animal Farm, but forgot about 1984 and when I would think about it I always put it off as I didn’t think the genre was my style.
Now I have read 1984 and the first thing I want to say is that this book is depressing. I do not think it is a bad or boring book. In fact 1984 is a literature masterpiece, George Orwell is a genius and I 100% agree that this is a life changing must read book. But I personally think overall this is a soul crushing book, it made me sad and scared and has added to my existing trust issues. When I was looking at comments after finishing the book someone described their experience as “probably the most intense feeling of helplessness I have ever felt while reading a book”. And I agree so much with this statement.
Let me start with the first thing that made me uncomfortable which was surveillance through telescreens. Basically the telescreen is not for entertainment purposes, it is to monitor and track your actions and can speak/shout back to you; at one point Wilson was doing the required morning exercise and he wasn’t do it right so the lady on the telescreen called out his full name saying he wasn’t bending properly. Also you cannot switch off your telescreen so you are constantly being forced to hear the propaganda music and news 24/7. This just made me so annoyed because imagine never being able to have some peace and quiet, that’s a nightmare scenario for me. In this world there is no such thing as privacy even in your own home, everything you do and say is being recorded. Someone in the Thought police is watching you. Big Brother is always watching you.
The paranoia this gave me was that I’m scared I already live is a world with no privacy and as time goes on it looks like this dystopia is more of a prophecy than fictional writing. In the 21st century, CCTV cameras are useful but they didn’t exist before. With entertainment reality shows are the normal; one of the biggest show is called Big Brother after the 1984 book. Also we have mobile phones beings able to track your location. And social media in general making me sick, because it literally stores everything. My brother said why am I on YouTube if I don’t want people watching me, and I feel like it’s different with YouTube because I can selectively edit my videos. Whereas the thought of not being in control makes me more vulnerable.
Now the reason why I am getting paranoid is not only because I’m suddenly aware of my lack of privacy, but because of what they are doing with the information they are gathering. In 1984 the Thought police who were monitoring you had scientist that were studying the behaviour patterns and speech all in order to be able to read someones mind and to predict who will rebel. In some of the last chapters I literally got chills any time O’Brien would say “you are thinking…” and goes on to say exactly what Wilson had just thought in his head. The thought police were studying in order to better learn how to control and manipulate. These scientist accumulate all this information on someone so that when they are being interrogated they know exactly how to push your buttons and can even create your biggest fear in Room 101 in order break you down into complete submission; so that all that is left is a mare empty shell.
Next I want to talk about community. In this dystopia world they force you to be apart of your community, attend meetings, going on hikes, preparing parades all in order to promote the Party (what they call their government). Yet even though you spend time together there is no real authentic relationships, there is no bonding or trust being created. This is because communities are designed as a way to further monitor people. People do speak casually for fear of spies being among them who would report on them to the thought police. The only loyalty that exist, is loyalty to Big Brother. Friends do not laugh together, husbands and wives do not share secrets or even really love each other, and parents do not trust their children. In this dystopia it is normal to expect that your child will hear you sleep talking saying somethings against Big Brother and get you arrested the next day. The Party implements it’s doctrines into children early, getting them to wear uniforms and be excited about public executions.
I remember when Wilson first met Julia it had potential to be a lasting secret love, and maybe it was still possible to have care and affection. I remember when Wilson spoke to O’Brien and revolution seemed to be in the works already. And I also remember realising that all of it is pointless, and there is no hope for change.
Lastly I want to talk about information. The book repeats the slogan of the Party serval times “Who controls the past, controls the future: who controls the present controls the past”. The Party rewrites the events of the past and controls the narrative of history, so they can maintain their position of authority. Wilson jobs was to change pieces of text so it would be in favour of the Party; for example one of the leaders would have promised there would be no reduction in the chocolate allowance and then the chocolate allowance decreased so therefore he had to go back to change that part of the speech. The Party can never be wrong and it was the job of those in the Ministry of Truth is ensure that. Then the craziest part is that even though the population heard that there would be no reductions, but now see that chocolate has been reduced they had to use doublethink to cancel it out and believe that the chocolate allowance has remained the same or even increased. Doublethink means 2+2 = 5 if the Party says so.
Some of the main ways the Party passed on the information they had rewritten was through news, books, and posters; controlling everything from the Ministry of Truth. Now in the 21st century mainstream News today can be selective depending on the discretion of the network. However there is still freedom in information as many independently run newspapers as well as resources online are available.
I have a scenario I want to share and compare to 1984.
Over the last year I have seen leaders contradicting themselves in the worse ways, one of the biggest for me was on the 16th of December Boris Johnson said it would be “inhuman” to cancel Christmas, then literally not even up to 4 days after he cancels Christmas. People in the UK snapped, it was chaos. Now if this was 1984 Boris would have said on the 16th Christmas is happening, and on the 20th he would say there is a ban on it. If this was 1984 the articles would have read ‘there had always been a ban on Christmas’ and the population would have had to use doublethink. There would not have been any proof that Boris over promised; because all of that would have been altered. So just imagine if it was possible for the government to do that. Just sit and think on that scary thought.
And with that we have come to the end of this book-ish video. 1984 is a must read, I wholeheartedly recommend it. In my first book-ish video I talked about how I use Audible to get through books because I have trouble focusing sometimes. And so this is the first book with actually pages I have read and finished this year. Even though it was still a little hard, especially sometimes to read the political ideas; I wanted to read on because it was interesting and important.
I have linked my book down below; let me know in the comments if you have read it or have anything else to add about some of the points I mentioned. Thank you so much for watching this video. If you enjoyed this video remember to like, comment, subscribe and ring the notification bell so you know when I post. Byeeeee