The Value of Oppression

It feels like a scene out of 1984. I find myself relating to Winston Smith. I turn the corner and think I’m about to see a guy snuggled up with a girl on a couch in the student lounge. Instead, he’s yelling to someone over Facetime. My first thought: I would have preferred to see the former.

How odd; I can’t say I’ve ever felt like this before. That does sound pretty weird when typed out.

It was a sort of hidden hope which whispered to me at first, and now it has my full attention. Winston was the first thing I thought it to be comparable to-- how he wanted to see immorality and smut in counteraction with the highly sanitized, oppressed society in which he lived (Big Brother is watching!). For me it’s the highly mechanized, roboticized society.

However, this could also be a reflection of my own tendency to sanitize my public-self and suppress my intentions and desires-- especially the “dirty” ones. Especially those.

Maybe it’s time to exit the 3rd grade. One theory of 1984 was that the novel was George Orwell’s allegorical conception of primary school-- which for him, in the early 1900s, was a painful experience.

I don't think technology is bad. Automating some of the more mundane activities of our loves can help to bolster our creativity and higher thought processes, by allowing us to give more attention to them. However, many of us go the opposite way, instead giving attention to funny cat pictures and hysteria-provoking tweets, and making conversation more mechanical.

Some activities and messages simply do not fit into the media which we try to squeeze them. And, you guessed it, this applies to no combination more than that of human connections and technology. When technological socialization overwhelmingly takes the place of meaningful face-to-face interaction, as well as other “real-time” pursuits, we develop the sadness of society. We keep consuming more and more digital communication, yet we feel emptier. Our society is advanced, though sad.


Smashed by Authority

How did Winston handle his dilemma in the story? He chose to rebel in secret by engaging in sexual intercourse with a woman for non-reproductive purposes-- a woman he was not married to, for that matter.

Did he succeed? During this scandalous period of his life he felt the best he ever had. Unfortunately, in the end he was caught, and he and his beloved Julia were dumbed down and turned against one another by torture from the unbeatable authorities. And because the law enforcement system is just so good, the two were swept up swiftly and quietly, leaving their story unheard and thus without any impact on other people.

There was no headline explosion in the news. No one finds out about dissent in Oceania. The bad-behavior focus is purely on other continents, the fat cat-capitalists of the past, and a vague underground group whose existence is uncertain. There’s no inspiration to rise up and rebel. If there is- as in Winston’s case- it’s more likely a setup to test your faith to your rulers-- to the Party.

Go to Your Leader

Why do I go on about the book? I mean, our society isn’t anything like that. Deviance of any sort is big news, names included.

In both places, fictional and not, things are more complex than we think. We may think we’re getting past the system when really we’re not. You cannot ignore who’s in charge in your world, and a lot of the time your conscious mind is not in charge.

The subconscious mind is much like the police force in an oppressed country. Your subconscious loves familiarity and structure, and- especially if this structure reeks of negativity and fear- any deviance from this familiarity will be met with resistance. You may think you are a free being who can do as you wish, but it won’t be long before you are crushed back into a desperate existence-- or worse.

The authorities run a tight shift around here, and they will catch you. You must go to them directly and listen. An uprising from the trenches will only be repressed. You have to communicate peace, even if you think they can never understand peace. You never know what results can be created until you go forth and create. There is no better way out.