Cho: 2018 is the New “1984”

Cho: 2018 is the New 1984

By Joon Cho

In his famous book titled “1984,” George Orwell created a magnificently horrendous future characterized by conformity and, to a more subtle degree, the notion of the panopticon. Those who do not conform to the ideas represented by the government are deemed traitorous and thus reeducated to better conform to the standards and the ideals of the government. These ideas include the use of sex solely for reproduction, a rewritten history and a fervent support for the government in all of its totalitarian actions. This creates what is often denoted as a total dystopia. However, it seems this fictitious dystopia is not much different from our own reality — our own trends eerily resemble that of Orwell’s novel.

There are obvious contrasts between the Orwellian dystopia and contemporary society. We society members do not have sex solely to reproduce. If anything, sex has become an activity participated in more for pleasure than for necessity, as many people worry about overpopulation, and promiscuity among young adults is rampant around the globe. We also are not, as far as we know, subject to a rewritten history, nor are we forced to support a totalitarian government in all of its despotic ideals. Yet we are subject to the same effects of those ideas due to our own society’s conformity. Orthodoxy is ubiquitous and often encouraged. Ideas are ingrained into children to better support a system of conformity.

Standing for the Pledge of Allegiance has become a controversial issue as of late. This seems especially pertinent in the classroom, with most public education institutions K-12 requiring both the memorization of the pledge as well as the recitation of it. This practice exemplifies the idealization of conformity and the implementation of it, as the lyrics of the pledge are primarily concerned with loyalty to America. This same issue is relevant in the NFL in relation to athletes kneeling for the national anthem: athletes who do not conform are being censured due to their supposed lack of patriotism. In the situations of both the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem, there are two clearly delineated sides. One side argues that not kneeling for the anthem/standing for the pledge indicates disrespect to America as a whole. The other side would state that a country led by corrupted and bigoted ideals does not garner such respect, giving athletes and students more than enough reason to remain seated, resisting the supposed conformity of America.

The very idea that standing versus kneeling or sitting is even a debate in and of itself depicts that we have become accustomed to the idea that honoring the pledge and the anthem are American values. The fact that we have two fervent sides with their own dogmatic notions about equality or patriotism is similarly a form of conformity, as the divide and individuals’ tendencies to align with one or another is conforming to conventional standards of either given side. This suggests that those who kneel or sit, opposing an apparent American ideal, are not mavericks. Rather, they are simply another part of the system and hence a form of conformity.

The idea of being a nonconformist is nonexistent. We conform even by fighting conformity, as the awareness of conformity and the supposed denial of it is conformity exemplified. Ideas are implemented by society into the youth, and this creates a system that circumscribes thought. This leads to systemic ideology according to a culture and society with either adherence, denial or ambivalence to the culture’s ideals being the only available ideologies due to the circumscribed thought. Thus, we are a conformist society, adhering even when we deem ourselves mavericks and iconoclasts. We, in 2018, are uniform in a variety of different ways — the Pledge of Allegiance and national anthem are but two examples of how ingrained we are into our societal ideologies. So, although we are living in 2018, we are also living in Orwell’s 1984.

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