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“The technotronic era involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite, unrestrained by traditional values. Soon it will be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain up-to-date complete files containing even the most personal information about the citizen. These files will be subject to instantaneous retrieval by the authorities.”

Zbigniew Brzezinski

There has been a lot of commentary about how social media is making us less social. Of course there are other aspects of today’s consumeristic culture that are breaking down human interaction which will be topics of future analysis. What I would like to address at this time is how we should not mistake isolation as encouraging a more independent “modern” man and woman. Instead we may be seeing a fragmenting traditional avenues of group cohesion – religion, family, civic and fraternal organizations…anything an individual can magnify their strength when unified with others who share their desires. And the ultimate irony is that this weakening will make us less able to be independent…and facilitate the war on individual consciousness.

Brzezinski’s predictions originally made in the 1970s sound eerily similar to those made by Bertrand Russell that envision a dystopian era where a small elite are able to enjoy the freedom to inquire, to create, and ultimately control the thoughts, minds and souls of the masses. This would be an Orwellian state in which education for the elite would know no bounds; but for the regular “proles,” as Orwell termed the majority of people in “1984,” it would center on making them good workers, good consumers…people satisfied with their place in life…perhaps entertained by reality shows, sports, celebrity gossip and videos of cute kittens?

Ideally education should cultivate inquiry and creativity, essential for one to be a complete individual. Yet exactly opposite seems to be the case today.  I try to address how education, at least in the USA, has turned into a form of promoting conformity in my book, “Freedom from Conscience – Melanies Journey.” Melanie is gifted but only one teacher is able to tap into her potential, and he has an anterior motive; to introduce her to a very dark path.  Of course, a major portion of the plot is her alienation as an outsider in an institution that is often lethal to the creativity of those who dare to think outside the box.  And while my novel is fiction it taps into reality for so many young people in America.  http://moaklang.tumblr.com/post/47194554291/book-review-title-melanies-journey-author

As for television, its ultimate function is not to assist viewers to grow in awareness, as Philo Farnsworth hoped his invention would, but rather the corporations that dominate broadcasting today want high profits and that requires turning viewers into self-obsessed wanna-be narcissists who have been carefully cultivated from birth to feel inadequate with their bodies, their beliefs, their families and ultimately their cultural heritage. Such people are willing prey for companies to sell them anything with the promise of acceptance, love and fame. Yet the marketers know that their products sell false-hope, but that does not matter, consumers are so barraged with the promise of ultimate satisfaction they generally don’t stop long enough to realize that it’s all fake. So like social media and education, the individual becomes isolated, broken from any sense of connection to traditional forms of identity that could enhance a sense of true independence.

Lastly, in regards to Orwell as well as Brzezinski’s prediction, in Orwell’s “1984” the government monitored you through your television screen to make sure you were compliant. Perhaps we are not there yet…or are we? Snowden’s revelations point to massive data sweeps that intercept and store our phone conversations and web activity. Ironically, people now share intimate details of themselves on social media, seeking approval through clicked icons from people ranging from ex-boyfriends to that gal they only talked to once in high school (and of course whatever government agency is storing that info).

Maybe this new age of the erosion of individuality could better be symbolized by a meme depicting a scowling kitty than the iconic Stalinesque poster of “Big Brother” from Orwell’s work.

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