Anyone seen Signs?
- “They’re not trying to get in. They’re just making noises. Why would they do that?”
- “They want our attention on the door.”
I just remembered this scene while reading an article on Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. When I read the section comparing his book with 1984, something caught my eye: “Orwell feared the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.” In other words – by keeping us distracted, the truth could hide in plain sight. And we do seem to have an appetite for distraction, as the article rightly points out.
“Today is a good day to bury bad news”
Surely most people remember the above debacle. For those who don’t, they were words spoken by a certain Labour minister on the day of 9/11. She felt that, with the enormity of what was happening across the pond, it would be an opportune moment to publish some other bad news while everyones’ attention was diverted elsewhere. At the time I was quite surprised she could be so heartless, naive as I was. But what surprised me even more was the fuss that was made of it. Thinking back, I don’t think it was anything to do with punishing a politician for being out of line. I think it was more to do with punishing a politician for revealing one of the best tricks.
The thing is, if there had been no fuss made, she’d have most likely got away with it. The truth is, we are distracted, are becoming more so and have largely brought this on ourselves. Ironically, if no-one had pointed it out, it would, itself, have become a bit of bad news that would have been quietly buried. These days more people know what’s going on in Albert Square than in Whitehall. More people are looking at their smartphones, while walking, than at the street in front of them. More people are voting on X-Factor than in the elections. We’ve become so drawn into a world of present-tense short-termist pleasure-seeking that we are neglecting to be mindful of what’s taking place around us.
We are willingly turning ourselves into Orwell’s proletariat. We are consuming endless streams of distraction and not really thinking about the system itself or questioning ourselves as to why we’re doing it. We are becoming less questioning. Debate, rationale and empirical thinking are frowned upon. They are considered either too troublesome or meaningless, depending on who you talk to. As Huxley himself once said: “The deepest sin against the human mind is to believe things without evidence.”
Wake up, people. I don’t know what the endgame is, but if you’re going to sleepwalk into it, it probably won’t play out in your best interests.