Reaction Room 101
As part of the 2017 Dystopia Reading Challenge, the Reaction Room 101 will comment on the dystopian titles that have been reviewed in the context of our modern world.
- Instant Gratification: From shopping to relationships, Dr Marny Lishman concedes it’s part of life now, and it has consequences. Huxley’s emotionless copulation has been recognised in Tinder, while 90% of credit-hungry millennials have admitted to impulse buys as ‘buy now, pay later’ becomes the norm. Forbes discusses controlling your EQ to resist instant gratification.
- Soma: While legal highs are, in fact, far from encouraged there are many reports that we are becoming desensitised to all sorts of horrorssorts of horrors.
- Nanny State: Combining the removal of struggle and enforced happiness, Huxley creates the ultimate nanny state. Recently, the issue of UK women taking dangerous abortion pills was back in the news, and groups asked whether citizens should have the right to make poor choices. Other interventions reported recently have included alcohol and cigarettes, sugary drinks, roast potatoes, toast, and children having a tantrum may be abused.
- God irrelevance: In 2010, Stephen Hawking declared God to be existing but irrelevant, almost directly from Brave New World. The BBC asked the same question in 2012.
- Bureaux of Propaganda and Truth vs. Happiness: The theme of ‘truth’ has been recurrent in recent news. In 2016, the OED named ‘post-truth’ its word of the year thanks to misleading coverage during the UK Brexit referendum and US Election. Huxley sees truth and happiness as mutually exclusive, and facts are retconned or suppressed to ensure happiness continues. Meanwhile, an explosion of fake news has been reported by the BBC, while President Trump’s camp and Jeremy Corbyn have accused the BBC themselves of publishing fake news. Pro-Trump fake news was shared 30 million times during the US Election, and his administration has been accused of a loose relationship with the truth. Kellyanne Conway birthed “alternative facts” in January, a phrase which has since been borrowed in clashes between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn; Kezia Dugdale and Nicola Sturgeon; and Discovery and Sky. Alternative facts have been cited about the size of Donald Trump’s inauguration crowd, the non-existent Bowling Green massacre, and a terrorist attack in Sweden.
- Caste system: While we do not predetermine the class of our children, separate reports in 2012 and 2015 found that social mobility was very low.
- Individualism: Huxley’s world doesn’t permit one to be a round peg in a square hole. Since President Trump’s election in 2016, there have been widespread claims that diversity had taken a knock.
- Viviparous: While there is no impending likelihood that being born and raised by parents will be discontinued, Huxley may be troubled to note that the UK approved gene editing for human embryos for the first time in 2015, and the first application is under consideration. A human/pig hybrid embryo was created last month.