If you have ever taken the chance to read 1984 by George Orwell or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World you would be quite disturbed as to how similar their created worlds are to today’s political environment. On one side we are surveiled more than ever before. On the other side we are more distracted than ever before.
Huxley’s Brave New World was an environment filled with mass entertainment distributed to the population. This distribution of entertainment was to pacify the population and to divert attention away from political issues. Orwell’s 1984 limited freedom of communication between people so that they would not conspire against the government. In each world, there is one freedom that doesn’t seem to be afforded to the general population: its ability to question the actions of the government.
In today’s Australia there are a multitude of similarities to Huxley and Orwell’s world. This year alone the federal government has announced new powers for the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Security Intelligence Operations (ASIO) to acquire metadata without warrants for the departments to surveil, edit, copy and/or delete at their discretion. They have also gagged whistle-blowers from being able to divulge injustices on detention centres by charging their honesty as a criminal offence. In addition to this, the government has also decided to create a media blackout on controversial government operations. Our mainstream television screens are filled with reality shows without much substance, purely designed to “fill time” and entertain rather than educate and inspire. Our phones are filled with apps and games also used to entertain and fill time. Our leisure time is spent on materialism and endless resource consumption (yes, this means shopping!). Some advise that having our mobile devices encourages a change in our behaviors and not always for the best. Observations lead us to believe that we are less patient, more distracted, less social in meaningful ways, less empathetic and more selfish. Moreover, the most important challenge this population will face is the consequences of man-made climate change which will affect this generation of teenagers and children more than anyone else. Some have said that the challenge is so big that people feel hopeless and helpless. So hopeless and helpless that they choose to be distracted by entertainment as it is easier than facing the truth. Is this really the case? If so…how do we dare be brave in this new world?
After asking a few students about this we have compiled ways that they and we can be brave in this new world based on various political and social issues in Australia and the social media responses – marriage equality, domestic violence, refugee treatment and resettlement, tackling climate change, technology and environmental sustainability.
Social Media Responses:
Social Media Response:
Refugee Treatment and Resettlement
Social Media Response:
Climate Change, Technology and Environmental Sustainability
Social Media Response:
Student responses on how to brave in this new world:
In today’s society it is easier to avoid and deflect the issues surrounding the development in our world. In doing so especially in my generation it allows us to focus more solely on the technological advances not the economical challenges that we are facing. I personally feel that the problems we are faced with today I can have in no way an impact on in the future. It feels hopeless that any change can occur from the youth as society is already set in its ways. Technology gives people hope that they can make a difference without actually giving them the power to do so. – Leise, Yr 10, Brisbane, Australia
It is hard to be brave in this new world but it is possible. It is possible because we as humans can do amazing and extraordinary things when we put our minds to it; it only takes a little effort. To dare to be brave in this new world we first have to dare to be honest with ourselves and see the reality as it is, but this reality we have created can be overwhelming. One thing I have learnt through my journey during high school is that to look at the big picture is like trying to hold the sky; it’s nearly impossible. We first have to look at the small things that lead up to the big picture because it makes everything transform into something much more achievable. “Everything seems impossible until it is done,” – Nelson Mandela. This is too true. As I mentioned before, humans are extraordinary. To think only a hundred years ago the human race was beginning to understand science and invent amazing machines and inventions that have helped evolve and assist us today. To think there was once a medieval time where murder was accepted and illness plagued the world. The human race has come so far and we are still becoming more. It only takes a little awareness, determination and bravery to become the next Albert Einstein, Nelson Mandela or Amelia Earhart. To dare to be brave in this would we must first dare to be positive and believe in a better world, only then will we achieve greatness. – Sian, Yr 10, Brisbane, Australia
The idea that such advancements in technology are making teenagers “more distracted, less social in meaningful ways, less empathetic and more selfish” is in my opinion, far from reality. Although this may be the case for some teenagers, it is most certainly not the case for all. The influence of mass technology on young adolescence depends purely on how the individual chooses to utilize it.
Despite being popular for entertainment purposes, social media sites (such as Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter) provide a strong outlet for young people to access news and information, express their opinions and communicate their ideas with like-minded people. For many young people, it is their main source of current news, and an opportunity for exposure to worldly events. While mainstream television and gaming apps may be “distracting” the population, there is an equal (if not more) amount of current news sources, which are increasingly becoming more accessible to the populations. Social media and advanced technology has made current news incredibly accessible, and furthermore, is allowing “the average teen” to express his/her opinions on a topic. It was only a couple of decades ago that people had to wait for the mailman to deliver the daily newspaper, but in today’s advanced society, news hubs are literally right at our fingertips. Instead of having to write a ‘letter to the editor’ to debate a topic, teens merely have to log in to their twitter accounts and write a comment for the whole world to instantly see.
In Harley’s Brave New World the general population were denied the ability to question the acts of the government. In this aspect alone, the novel does not at all reflect our current society. All one has to do is turn on the television to see the amount of scrutiny and controversy the government receives from the general population; regular protests, viral videos and individual complaints. Social media site Tumblr alone is littered with angry rants and heated debates on worldly issues. Young people in this day and age are given the tools to be anything but “hopeless and helpless” when it comes to creating change and addressing our world’s most pressing problems – and clearly, they are utilizing these tools. If anything, increased advancements in technology have allowed young adolescents to question the acts of the government and actively move for change. – Sam, Yr 10, Brisbane, Australia
The atmosphere is challenging yet hopeful. There is an acknowledgement of the difficulties this generation face. However, there are also movements of vision and hope that is evidenced through social media and youth if people take the chance to listen. This brave new world has a lot going for it – it just has to be acknowledged a lot more loudly, it needs to be celebrated every day and there needs to be deliberate action to improve outcomes for future generations. How do we do that?
Remember people who do things like this…
One of the most inspiring pages to explore common bravery exists in the land of Imgur. Search under “brave” or “courageous” and you will be reading stories like these…
Read sources that provide insight and hope for the future like…
the r/UpliftingNews section of Reddit.
Follow people on Instagram and Twitter who are trying to make a difference.
SPEAK UP when you witness injustice.
SPEAK UP when you have an idea.
TAKE ACTION because if you don’t then no one else will.