I don’t know how I put off reading George Orwell’s 1984 for so long.

Post-apocalyptic future?


Classic novel heavily referenced throughout pop culture?


Used as an example throughout one of my favorite books Amusing Ourselves To Death?


Used as the basis for Apple’s 1984 Super Bowl ad that revolutionized Super Bowl advertising and become one of the most influential ads of all time?

Wow. Check. What’s your problem Garrett?

I think I made the erroneous conclusion a long time ago that I already knew what it was about. I’m calling it the “Taken fallacy.”

You see, I’ve never seen the movie Taken, however, everyone else in the world has. They talked about it all the time when it came out, quoted it and reenacted many scenes for me in living rooms so I could truly understand Liam’s special set of skills. I didn’t feel like I needed to see it, since I had just experienced through other people. Here’s a freebie link to a more detailed analysis of Liam Neeson’s cinematic trail of death.

1984 falls in that same bucket for me. I felt like I knew the story. Government controls the people and Big Brother controls everyone. That’s it.

I was so wrong.

1984 ended up being so engrossing and terrifying because of the prophetic nature of it. The most haunting aspects of it had to do with Newspeak. Not that torture isn’t haunting, but I think the idea of controlling others through thought and speech is more damning.

For those of you who haven’t read it, Newspeak is a modified version of the language that was created to slowly remove out of the public’s mind any concept of right or wrong, good and evil, or any thought outside of what the Party (the authoritarian political party) sees fit. In changing speech, interaction, and conversation, there can be no rebellion, nor dissent. People follow, because they are literally unable to think differently.

Two ghosts hung around me while I read this book. I mean ghosts in the Dicken’s sense like specters that forewarn you of things that were, are and will shortly come to pass.

Social media has granted us a huge amount of access and power to information. I could tout the benefits of it for days, but at the same time, what will this form of communication do to the way we think? When the only option you are given is to “like” a post, until recently, how does that change the conversation? When you are only given 140 characters to express yourself are you ever able to really convey what you mean adequately? Do we accept the fact that companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter decide for us what content, speech and thought is most relevant or best for us?

The second comes in the land of politics where shorthand seems to win out. When you can slap a snappy phrase on a hat and rally millions behind you because you’ve worked them into a frenzy, what happens to civility in politics? How can you ever understand the infinite array of belief, ideas, and thought when you interview someone for a couple minutes on stage?

Big Brother doesn’t have to be a person or a figure— I think it’s much easier for him to manifest himself through our mass acceptance of oversimplification. The blind acceptance that things are exactly the way they are presented to us.

Sometimes we check the “I have read and accept the terms and conditions” of ideas without reading the fine print.

The book is worth a read. Plus, it’s nothing like Taken so I highly recommend it.