KINDLEBOOKS.COM "1984" by George Orwell.
KINDLEBOOKS.COM
“1984” by George Orwell.

“War is Peace.”

“Freedom is Slavery.”

“Ignorance is Strength.”

For anybody who’s ever read George Orwell’s “1984,” these three lines are among the most memorable phrases that resonate throughout the novel. A code to live by, they hold sway over the minds of every citizen of Oceania. Each day these people are born and bred to adhere to a carefully planned routine, oblivious to their utter lack of free will.

Jammed with contradictions, the three-line slogan of Big Brother’s famous party contains the power to reshape reality. This is known as “doublethink,” described in the novel as “the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.” Using doublethink, logic becomes evermore distorted until the power to choose collapses in on itself. While the citizens of Oceania are aware that their sense of free will is an illusion, at the same time they readily cling to it.

Although the year 1984 has come and gone, the possibilities imagined by this dystopia are just as scary today as they were 65 years ago. Doublethink may not have conquered us so completely that we have already lost ourselves, but it appears in hidden pockets of our lives that we purposely refuse to open.

If Orwell’s infamous quote were rewritten to fit our century, what would it read? What are the lies that we have shaped into truths and the contradictions that we’ve buried?

I wasn’t sure how to approach this question. It seemed like such a big thing to contemplate and try to put into words that made sense to our generation. So instead of thinking about such grand statements like “War is peace,” I decided to start small.

“Tumblr is Individuality.”

Many of us have gone through that phase where we have dreamt of being Tumblr famous. When I created my account several years ago, I tried to think of some cool hipster name for a blog that screamed originality. I searched for quirky tags and hidden gems to repost on my own page, and out of my efforts came a unique compilation of my favorite quotes, styles and relatable GIFs.

I truly believed that this site was a way for me to express my individuality. To an extent, I still believe that Tumblr and similar sites like Pinterest can show pieces of someone’s personality. However, nothing I ever posted on my blog was my own, and this is an example of that enigmatic doublethink. Every image I collected and every quote I shared with my followers was taken from somewhere else. To be an individual, I was shredding up my own creativity and taping together scraps of everybody else’s.

“Facebook is Openness.”

In all the Facebook advertisements I’ve seen, every picture and video is a personal moment shared between friends and family. It’s always the typical montage that makes everybody feel good about how great one’s life is. Its slogan claims that “Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life,” as though those perfect personal moments were lined up to be presented to the world in as honest and straightforward a manner as possible.

But who is that person in all of your pictures? When you’ve gone back and deleted the ones where you looked fat, or where your hair was messed up, or where you were with an ex that you no longer talk to or where you said something stupid years ago, what is left? In “1984,” the Party erases the records of the past and reforms it to its liking, and now Facebook has given us a portion of this power.

We are who we choose to appear to be. We can completely un-tag and delete the pictures where we had braces or experimented with styles that no longer conform with our identities. We’re all guilty of this self-deception, going back to the beginning of our photos and getting rid of whatever displeases us. Facebook allows us to openly share anything and everything, yet it closes us down until who we are is a carefully planned timeline that never strays from our chosen design.

Social media has gifted us with the ability to leave our footprints on the landscape of the Internet, but most of us are scared to move. Every day, we convince ourselves that we should stand out in front of a backdrop of stereotypical blogs and profiles, but we end up slipping back into the same routines.

Next time you want to change your profile picture or upload a photo to your blog, I challenge you not to wait for the moment when you think you’ll get the most likes. Share things when it feels right to you, and don’t retouch them to make everything filter perfect. “Tumblr is individuality. Facebook is openness.” These first two lines seem pretty negative, but maybe we can learn from Orwell and use doublethink to make the last line a solution instead:

“Perfection is Imperfection.”

Hannah Kaufman is a rising sophomore in the College. Back to Futures Past appears every other Monday at thehoya.com.

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