It wasn’t Nineteen Eighty-Four that had the most to say about the America of the 1980s, but rather Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. “In Huxley’s vision,” Postman noted, “no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity, and history.” Instead: “People will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.”
I recently completed Dave Eggers’ The Circle, a book that also touches on this subject. Recently made into a movie (that I haven’t had the change to see yet), The Circle follows 20-something Mae Holland and her employment at The Circle, a mashup of Google, Facebook, and a little bit of Apple. The book is a warning on how superficial the “Like” community is, and the danger of letting one company monopolize the world’s information. With all of this happening, people still gladly give up everything about themselves, even after they are faced with the repercussions of these actions.
As we teach students to navigate these tricky waters, what messages are we sending?