This month's review is written by guest writer Cat Dillon. Thank you so much for your time and your words.
1984 was one of the classics I had always intended to read, which for some reason I never got round to. Am certain that my teenage self would have been disturbed by the brutality and manipulation of the regime. I certainly would have felt some empathy for the doomed love story between Winston and Julia. No way would I have drawn so many parallels between the Orwellian novel written over 70 years ago and the present world my adult self is living in today.
1984 depicts a dystopian future where the gov controls its citizens through surveillance, with 'Big Brother' watching their every move, brain washing people into believing a false reality through rewriting history and promoting a perpetual state of war and fear of the 'other' to control the masses. Even rewriting language to 'news speak' - limiting the ability for citizens to express themselves through language. The world depicted by Orwell is bleak and grey the positive attributes of being human - love, emotion, family being eroded and replaced with distrust, suspicion and fear. Creating 'thought crimes' to condemn citizens to 'unpersons' for having traitorous rebellious thoughts disliked by those in power.
Surveillance is now a staple of every high street in the UK today, there are very few blind spots in which we elude the cameras. The majority of people have unwittingly let Alexa into their homes, where Amazon listen, recording and sending our most personal and intimate family conversations, back to HQ. Tech giants record our every comment, gesture online to build data profiles where we become the commodity to monetise and manipulate. They use moderators to scan social media flagging those that commit thought crimes, removing profiles and all traces of repeat offenders. How many of us defer to a google algorithm to form part or all of our decision making processes?
Winston was busy in the records department at the Ministry of Truth, rewriting history to serve the purpose of Big Brother. How many Governments have retold the narrative rewritten press releases, removed past statements or just flat denied stories as 'false news' to support present assertions. There is a chilling familiarity with the way our press controls the flow of information to maintain the status quo.
Every day the citizens of Oceania take part in a 2 minute hate, where citizens spew hate against Goldstein the leader of the underground resistance. Parallels chillingly for me were drawn to daily trolling on social media, anonymous pouring of hate, ranting and death threats against individuals or races of people.
1984 was certainly not an easy read during lockdown, the ultimate destruction of Winston was unavoidable and inevitable. The novel serves as a handbook for a society none of us want and all of us should work hard to prevent.