Saturday, January 5, 2008


I've been a fan of George Orwell since high school, since being assigned the novel 1984 in a Junior English class. Every few years, I go back and read the book. I just finished it again this weekend. I was taken aback by the man's foresight and how I completely missed the point.

The subject of the government watching us all, monitoring our every move gets mentioned as being some kind of nod to Orwell's vision of the police state. I used to think about Big Brother when I heard the mayor of Charleston wanted to install more video cameras in the city or when I first heard the words "Patriot Act."

True, the government of the 21st century is all about control. Everything is legislated, but selectively policed. It is sometimes safer than others to kick your dog, smoke dope or steal millions. It is sometimes more likely to lead to incarceration when you shoplift, drive drunk or commit murder.

But Big Brother isn't the government. It isn't the police. Big Brother isn't some imposing authority watching over us. We live in a time when many carry camera phones, where the pictures of the naked breasts of a drunken 17 year-old are posted to the net before she has time to sober up, maybe before she throws up her last before collapsing on a couch after a party. We live in a time when we know the minutiae of the lives and proclivities of public figures, but have a hard time getting past the creepy fact they like to blow strange men in public bathrooms or upload video of themselves getting laid.

We don't need government to legislate morality, not when we have public humiliation on a global scale, not when the actions of any misstep or miscommunication can be used as ammunition on a blog or on Fark.

Government becomes an afterthought -just something to keep the lower classes in line, something to maintain our climate and temperature, something to allow us to maintain our power.

We police ourselves quite nicely -at least about the things we care about. We care about who is fucking who and how they're spending their money. We have become obsessed with ruin. We root for self-destruction. Watching people implode or explode has become a national past-time. We wait for it. We encourage it with our checkbooks. This is not the government. This is not the media. They are but arms of the monster we have built from our collective perversion.

We have become the apparatus. We are Big Brother.

Anyway, cool book...

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