My January Book Challenge selection was George Orwell’s 1984. I read this in high school and over the years maintained the basic message and premise but not the finer details. I was curious to revisit it with a set of more mature and experienced eyes and was anticipating gaining a deeper appreciation and insight now.
With the social and political climate in the world, and especially in the United States, I was looking forward to seeing just how George Orwell saw the future 80 years or so ago and how relevant the message still is – or is even more so.
My first impression after reading it was – WOW! A LOT was really lost on me when I first read it when at 16 years old. My naivety and lack of experience had found the idea/concept so much more far-fetched, my idealistic mind could probably not accept there would be truths to this, especially as the time era back then was not as tech-savvy nor prominent. People being able to spy on someone was what movies were made of and organizations like the CIA did in extreme cases.
The most alarming thing to me was the gaslighting and constant erasing of history to make it fit with the new present ‘they’ were constantly recreating at all times. It was horrifying and not as unrealistic as I would have once believed. We see this in the news right now. The media can and does construe your perception and even memory. One recent and prominent example is the debacle regarding the teen from Kentucky and the Native American Elder at a protest. Shortly after going viral, there were numerous articles and reports that portrayed one side or the other, despite there even being video footage of the incident. When I saw an article titled “I know what I saw…” which really hit home and made me think about easy it is to stir up chaos and confusion or spread lies or ‘fake news’ so easily and quickly.
There is no real truth. The “truth” is what the state says it is. Black is white, 2+2=5, if the state says so.
A cautionary tale and social commentary, 1984 forced me to think about the danger associated with authoritarianism but more so terrified me to remember that the truth can be and is arranged through media.
“War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.”