Dystopian Societies Essay

1201 words - 5 pages

Only recently, the community of the literary world was surprised by the emergence of a 23-years-old female author of a dystopian novel – Tahereh Mafi and her first book, Shatter Me. In it the young woman notes, “The new citizens of our world will be reduced to nothing but numbers, easily interchangeable, easily removable, easily destroyed for disobedience. We have lost our humanity.” What made her so famous in such a short period of time is that her observations resemble the predictions of two noted authors of dystopian novels – George Orwell with his book 1984 and Aldous Huxley with his work Brave New World. Both of them found a place not only in the literary world but also in the spheres of politics and psychology since their theories about the future of the human kind were largely based on realistic threats. Their view, no matter how exaggerated and far-fetched, has observable possible implications in the present. Martin Seligman, the President of the American Psychological Association, proposes partial remedy to some of these implications through his “positive psychology” theory. His approach could prove useful in dealing with threats like the numbing of the human mind, the emotional detachment from sexual relations, the death of family values, and the detachment from the past, all to a large extent due to the technological developments of the new world.
One significant problem, the one that triggered all others, is the numbing of the human character by institutions and by technology. This trend is largely discussed by Orwell. In his novel, a new language exists, and its main goal is “to narrow the range of thought.” Huxley also incorporates it in his discussion of the importance of schools in the New World – institutions shape the individual and bring him/her to a normal state of mind. Many other political thinkers have expressed their observations regarding the same trend of institutionalism – a phenomenon that, theoretically, should have died in the 1950s. The famous French philosopher Michel Foucault has also developed this idea of institutionalism and its prime role in shaping the individual. Another example is the professor and Harper’s Magazine author Thomas De Zengotita with his idea of the numb societies. He views media and technology as primary tools in helping to numb human emotions and minds. The modern person is all about focusing on the image of the celebrity. He/she is experiencing such overstimulation with receiving all the information around that he/she has reached a state of permanent shallowness and need to move fast forward. The only way to do this quickly is to adapt and achieve a state of “numbness.” Seligman’s “positive psychology” theory has certain potential in lessening this numbing effect. According to him, the “good life” consists in “knowing what your signature strengths are and recrafting everything you do to use them as much as possible.” This definition shifts the focus to the individual which to a...

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