Teen Conformity- Dystopian Style
I believe that sometimes (Instagram: Stephanie like your picture) we can forget what the purpose should (Facebook: Hannah tagged you in a photo) be in our lives. When this happens we lose (Facebook: Lucas likes the picture you’re tagged in) our focus. It becomes blurred (Email: 40% off your next purchase!). Just like the meaning of our electronics, we’re losing focus.
Our lives look a lot like that paragraph, cluttered with notifications and advertisements; any purpose or argument that was trying to be made was lost. These constant notifications and bombardment with others’ ideas and lives that we also lose any purpose in our own life. These same social media sites allow us to flaunt the things we have and the things we do. But in the end they’re only things. We have to share our fantastic lives with others. We need their admiration, stemmed from jealousy, because new and technologically advanced means better, and better stuff means happier people.
Happy people tend to have meaning in their life. But it’s all a mask. We have this mask that’s painted with self-worth, love, and joy. But it’s only a costume. We abandon function and lose our sense of life, leaving ourselves to the danger of an ever-approaching broken future. We have abandoned function, the original purpose of technology and progressive movements, so as to make our lives easier to live.
But in order for that theory to work, we have to actually learn to live. How can you define living? Technically speaking, living is simply breathing and having a beating heart. Living is surviving. In earlier times, progression was aimed at improving survival. But we’ve come to lose the true definition while succumbing to distractions and sewing the costumes that we’ve been creating. We’ve turned to making life easier, rather than longer.
Making less work for us, reducing our struggle. Cut down the struggle and then get straight to the reward. It becomes effortless to keep living in today’s age. We lose our sense of survival, and thus our sense of living. We try to make our world seem like life, the masks and costumes progressively more complex and embellished, and we do a pretty good job, but the destruction is yet ever eminent.
Will the world end tomorrow? Probably not, but isn’t it scarier not to care that it will at some point? If it doesn’t involve me, why should I care? We lose our sense to protect the survival of others, keep them living. We can’t look out for ourselves any longer. If we can’t sustain ourselves, and no one else cares for us, where’s any hope? The ones who are surviving and living have some hope for us, but they will never get to share their wisdom or secrets, because they’re most often the ridiculed or labeled people in our society. The very deeply religious, wild nature seekers, caretakers of the extremely impoverished, the activists and protesters, and those who challenge any set convention. Of course, they aren’t truly weird, rather they are beautiful, but we don’t express the respect we feel towards them. We apprehend them because they seem to obtain a knowing of themselves and the world around them that we crave.
Their masks and costumes are real. But due to social conventions, we fail to take any action to follow them. It’s easy to ridicule them, make jokes and tease, because it makes us feel less insecure about our desire to be like them. And it doesn’t have to be any radical or anarchist, but anyone who seems different. We’ve been told and taught to fear the different.
“Differents” tend to challenge those conventions that keep those who are in power in power, and not wanting to lose any hold to control, they speak out against them. A voice unheard, a world not full. One of the more recently surfacing trends seems to refute this idea of hating to be different, that of becoming “hipster”. A “hipster” is someone different, who generally speaking, does not like those things currently in fashion. They challenge ideals of the majority on a regular basis: dressing differently, having different interests, and supporting different ideals. They in turn seem to have a true sense of who they are, dressing and acting individually rather than following a group.
Ironically, this has become the fashion. People are more inclined to take risks when it comes to appearance or interests. Why isn’t this rebuffed by any authority? They aren’t actually following the right purpose, due to a lack of meaning in their actions. They can’t really cause any harm, because they’re following the trends like they always have, and don’t consider the right purpose. How many times do you consider the meaning of your actions or possessions in a day? You’re much more inclined to follow what has been programmed into you. Aldous Huxley’s novel Brave New World is set in a future where the government controls everyone.
They create the people from a test tube with the qualities they want, set their job and social status, and condition them while they’re young to follow the definition of living. The novel includes some radical measures, like all the people sharing the same names, creating millions of people from one egg, and the promoted promiscuousness of the citizens. These, however radical and crazy they may seem, only serve to protect the reader’s consciousness and press the idea of a different future setting. Without those extremes, the actual society isn’t far out of reach from today’s measures. In fact we’re more similar to this “crazy” and “weird” future than it may seem. Simply, our drugs are no different than their “soma”, which takes them on a holiday to escape any problem they face.
Addiction has captivated our world, and peer pressure forces many to begin this downward spiral. We’re already so inclined and programmed to follow the trends and take ideas of those coming before us, how much different would it be to literally create a program for humans? We already follow our own forms of conditioning our children with the ideas and values we deem appropriate. It may seem less invasive or extreme compared to playing soundtracks to children while they sleep, like in the novel, but it still creates the same results: children carrying ideas in their mind throughout their whole life. An example is an experiment that a couple did with their young son. Since he was born, they called water “milk” and called milk “water”, and taught him the same. The boy grew up knowing this to be true, without question, because it had been repeated to him so many times.
When he grew older, he faced great struggle having to comprehend that what he knew was only relative, and he was, no doubt, confused and lost. He was so easily conditioned, like any other child can be. In the novel, the children’s conditioning also includes the lesson to hate the different people in their society, known as the savages (those who live in old fashion terms, with families and long-lasting relationships). Can’t our fear and ridicule of those who live differently than us be deemed the same? Our world today isn’t that different than the extreme measures laid in these futuristic or apocalyptic stories, the likes of Brave New World, or even The Hunger Games or Divergent. They all have real world connections.
Their purpose it to draw attention to the similarities between the two worlds, rather than the differences. These dystopian worlds become a fearsome reality rather than words on a page. It’s a call for action, but not just by one, but by many. Unless it becomes the trend to change and challenge, it most likely won’t happen with much success. And although our power as individuals is strong and relevant, it is no match for a whole army of robots and their controllers.
It’s harder to replace actual people than batteries. Are you a battery?