Huxley, Orwell, and Modern Technology

Huxley’s 1931 novel A Brave New World depicts a weird and wonderful future that’s a dystopia masquerading as a utopia. An oppressive world government controls a person’s function in life from cradle to grave and keeps the masses blissfully intoxicated through Soma pills, encouraging people to lead debauched lifestyles.Comparisons have often been made between Huxley’s vision of the future and Orwell’s 1984 published in 1949. Orwell envisions a fractured world ruled over by rival polities, who maintain a constant state of war in order to terrify their citizens into complacency and obedience.

American cultural critic and author Neil Postman has argued since the 80s that A Brave New World is nearer our reality than 1984 because of the way we “amuse ourselves to death”, to borrow the phrase of one of his books. Numerous elections across the world in recent years have seen anti-establishment candidates and parties winning, indicating that en masse we’re more afraid of a 1984-style global elite infringing on our freedoms in the name of security.

One of the features both books have in common however is the ubiquity of and our reliance on modern technology (or future technology as Huxley and Orwell would have seen it). A Brave New World predicted low-cost international travel and 1984 describes Skype in everything but name. The world of tomorrow that was predicted by Soviet communism and American capitalism alike is very much upon us, despite the lack of flying cars.

Cars themselves are indeed a good indication of how much technology has changed and continues to change our lives. At the moment, driverless cars are threatening professional drivers through seemingly continuous improvement. Still years or decades away from becoming the norm, the concept itself is no longer sci-fi.
Even the economy itself has changed. With the advent of the online marketplace in the 1990s, more and more industries are moving online. Companies like America’s Paypal or China’s Alibaba focus simply on moving money round the world digitally (though the former also hosts auctions and sells goods).

With the arrival of Bitcoin nearly a decade ago and its phenomenal growth in recent months, even traditional currencies are being forced to rethink their strategies. Worldwide, iGaming companies in particular are accepting payment in the cryptocurrency, with Bitcasino for Canadian players the biggest crypto-casino in its niche. The website, which offers players a 100% bonus on a first deposit, has abandoned fiat currencies altogether.

Using Bitcoin as an everyday alternative to the dollar may never come but, like driverless cars, there’s quite enough buzz for individuals and industries to be taking notice.

Perhaps the most obvious example of technology’s impact on our lives is in communication. When once it was the norm to wait for 30 minutes if a friend was running late or give that letter another few days to arrive, we now phone or text each other at the slightest delay or whim and we expect emails to be answered within hours.

Whether one is more of the opinion that Orwell’s fear drives our society or that Huxley’s hedonism is what makes the world go round—or perhaps a more positive outlook all together—no one can deny that old sci-fi concepts are now commonplace, completely normal, and perhaps even banal.

Author: Dexter Sinistri

Dexter Sinistri is a famously centrist writer who has worked as a Hollywood correspondent for a number of leading publications since 2005. Though once a photographer, Mr. Sinistri struck out as a writer on all things celebrity, and he likes to consider himself a tremendous asset to Glossy News, though by most accounts, he has fallen somewhat short of this effort.


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