Our ‘1984,’ George Orwellian future may be closer than we think

Illustration by Cara Seccafien

Illustration by Cara Seccafien

Net neutrality is just the beginning

By Jessica Berget, Opinions Editor

In our present social and political climate, many people strongly believe that we are already living in, or headed straight for a dystopian, George Orwell’s “1984”-esque future, complete with doublethink, perpetual war, and the ever-famous Big Brother watching over us at all times. This ultimately comes as no surprise; people have been claiming that we’re living in “1984” ever since the book first came out.

However, with the recent repeal of net neutrality in the US, the illegal way in which it was done, and Canada possibly following closely in their footsteps, the possibility of living in an authoritative, brainwashing society like the one Orwell describes in his novel might not be very far in the future.

I honestly believe that we are indeed living in a war-mongered, brainwashed, surveillance heavy society, but not nearly to the degree of Orwell’s famous book. Yes, war seems to be breaking out, or is at the very least on the verge of it nearly everywhere we look in the news, many people are addicted to smart phones, news about celebrities who have no reason for being famous, fabricated, or biased news reports are flooding our social media accounts, and there are several surveillance cameras nearly everywhere we go. Kelly Anne Conway’s use of the term “alternative facts” doesn’t really put anyone at ease, but compared to the totalitarian conditions of the society described in “1984,” we have a long way to go to accurately describe our society as a “dystopia.” In Western society, we still have a lot of freedoms and rights that many countries presently do not have. I think it’s dramatic for people to claim that we are all already living in “1984.”

This is one major problem I find with claiming that we presently live in a dystopian society, it is heavily centred on Western society conditions. There are many countries that are living with an authoritative government, little to no internet freedoms, face the horrors of war daily, or all the above. Take North Korea, China, or anywhere in the Middle East, for example. These are countries that fit more closely within the rubric of being a dystopia, yet I have heard no one claim that they are living the George Orwellian society that we fear so much. It seems that if Western society isn’t dealing with these conditions, then no one is.

The repeal of net neutrality in the US is only the first taste of what it is like to live in a society that controls the media and content we can view, much like in Orwell’s book, and it seems Canada will be the next country to follow. According to a report by Canadaland, Major Canadian companies such as Bell, Rogers, Shaw, Cineplex, and Quebec-based theatre company Cinemas Guzzo are pushing the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commissions (CRTC) to create an organization called the Internet Piracy Review Agency (IPRA) in the name of blocking piracy, and yes, this should scare you. Blocking any content from the internet is a slippery slope. Once one thing is blocked, there will be other groups with reasons to block other things, thus leading us down a dark path of absolute net neutrality, and when major telecom corporations are involved, the outcome is never good, as we’ve seen with our American neighbours.

Although we are not yet living in a “1984”-esque society, it is something we should be wary of. It may happen when we least expect it, or we may not even realize it’s happening at all.

The Other Press

The Other Press, Douglas College's student newspaper since 1976. Articles, insight and updates from the New West and Coquitlam campuses.

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