George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is more than a work of fiction. It is a dire warning. The novel seems to have many connections to our life today. The connections I will be talking about is the concept of NewSpeak in the book and the use of slang nowadays. I will also be talking about the changing of the past and fake news in the book and comparing it to the fake news today.
New Speak in the novel 1984 was said to be created to narrow the range of thought and self expression. It was a language altered to shorten the range of speaking and writing. “In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.” The idea of New Speak in the novel was to make a very small vocabulary so that there were only small amount of words they could use. The government thought that if there were no words to use to think against the party, then no one would be able to rebel. In a way, the language of New Speak is quite similar to slang used these days. Slang is a type of language that consists of words and phrases that are regarded as very informal, and are typically restricted to a particular context or group of people. Slang is also shortened words and phrases that can be used over text to restrict the amount of words used and can limit expression. Lots of people are starting to communicate with abbreviations and recently made up words. These new words and abbreviations are becoming more common and new words are being made up every day. If it continues like this I can see many people only communicating in this way, instead of using proper words and therefore not being able to express themselves. Especially since many people use technology everyday, the use of slang and abbreviations is going up and up. A lot of people only communicate in slang over text and online. Both of these languages, New Speak and 2017 slang, limit the amount of words used and compact what is trying to be said into a short word or phrase. They make speaking and writing easier by altering the language. In limiting the range of speech, it changes the freedom of speech and expression of a person. The term “LOL” is commonly used while texting. This can be used not only because something is funny, but can be used to lighten the mood. In NewSpeak things are shortened to make everything easier to get the point across but you definitely lose the impact or affect of saying “plusgood” instead of “fantastic” or “awesome”. The NewSpeak word “plusgood” could be the NewSpeak version of the slang word “LOL”. An example of slang and the use of social media limiting peoples speech and self expression is Twitter. On Twitter you are limited to typing only 140 characters. A tweet itself forces people to pick and choose their words carefully to cut back and strip down their message to the core. Tweets are all about summing up a broader idea. This is very similar to New Speak as it forces people to shorten their words and phrases. NewSpeak and slang both emerged from one language and was cut down and adapted by new generations. Many news outlets have been using slang, twitter language or even hashtags during segments and it shows that slang is not only used on social media but used in our speech these days too. We also see this happening with people having conversations with each other. “It can be argued that Twitter and other social media outlets has emerged a legitimate form of communication that could influence how children will spell – and think in the future.” Since slang is starting to transition into peoples real vocabulary, and is starting to be used in person, it may change the way we think just the way New Speak does. It may even make it so we start thinking in slang, if we haven’t started already. Thinking and speaking in slang could really affect the way we think and could possibly control us. The use of social media and slang could be a big distraction from important things happening in the world. Right now, many bad things have been happening around the world, and social media could be such a big distraction that nobody really seems to care. There are no slang words or phrases discussing important topics or issues that exist, so if we were to fully start thinking and speaking in slang, there would be no way to express/address important ideas and topics.
In the novel 1984, it was often shown that the party members were constantly changing the past, and the reality of the world. “The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became the truth.”In the novel, Winston’s job was to help alter the past and make fake news. He was made to change things in the news so that there was no evidence that the party was ever wrong or lied. “And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed – if all records told the same tale – then the lie passed into history and became truth. “Who controls the past,” ran the Party slogan, “controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” And yet the past, though of its nature alterable, never had been altered. Whatever was true now was true from everlasting to everlasting. It was quite simple. All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. “Reality control,” they called it: in Newspeak, “doublethink.”
In a way, they were making fake news. Fake news is a type of journalism that consists of deliberate misinformation or hoaxes. Fake news is written and published to mislead in order to gain financially or politically. Fake news is seen everywhere these days. It’s hard to know what is true and what is false. “For how could you establish even the most obvious fact when there existed no record outside your own memory?” The people that write fake news use this to their advantage. If they make up things that are not true, and tell us that they are true, how are we going to know if it is true or not? There is no other evidence. O’Brien in the novel says, “How do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past in unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable – what then?”. This quote is him explaining that there is really no evidence left. The only evidence left is what the party tells them. Which could be a lie – or not. This is very similar to what is happening now in America with the climate change data being removed from the Government web site. The Environmental Protection Agency is updating its website and, in the process, has removed a page that explained the causes and effects of climate change. The agency said the website, epa.gov, is undergoing changes to reflect its new direction under President Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. This sounds awfully similar to how the party in the novel was removing evidence and altering the past.
I personally think that President Trump is acting like the Inner Party or even “Big Brother” in the novel, 1984. Currently he has been making up fake news. For example, I read that apparently most of the fake news today is coming from the White House. It is said that Trump and Russia have paired up to spread Fake News all over Facebook. Also I explained how he was removing evidence of things from the past – through the discussion of climate change. Trump does not believe in climate change, and I think this is because he does not care about the environment. He wants to use fossil fuels like coal and oil and pollution from factories to continue. He wants this because he wants power. “The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power.” said O’Brien in the novel. The party in the book seemed to have quite similar intentions to the intentions President Trump has today. To gain power.
In conclusion, there are many clear links between the novel, 1984, and the world today. I think you can say that this novel was written as a warning, because a lot of these things George Orwell wrote, are seeming to be coming true in some way. New words are being made up and people are starting to communicate in a different way, just like NewSpeak in the book. Fake news is being made up and people are believing it, just like the fake news being made up in the novel. The past is being erased and no one is really noticing, just like the past is constantly being erased and changed in the book. And last of all, the Inner Party or “Big Brother” seem quite similar to how President Trump is today.