Dystopian is an adjective I do not care for. It is a frightening word and I fear it goes hand in hand with the verb ‘manipulate’. The most frightening thing is that, in a world where fact checking is easier than it has ever been, words like ‘dystopian’ and ‘mass manipulation’ can find their way in our day to day vocabulary. How is it possible for a civilised society to have forgotten its history, ignore the red flags and buy into the lies and propaganda? Google, Twitter and Facebook can be useful tools, but they have become the spaces where the enemy resides and thrives.
We are a generation of keyboard warriors who refuse to vote when it’s most important. We are a generation of celebrity fact-checkers, but not fact fact-checkers. We don’t care about politics, because we don’t understand it. But it understands us. The political leaders know what to do to manipulate and confuse us, set us up against one another. We are isolated in our social media bubbles. Fact. We are divided and easier to conquer. Fact. Hatred is easier than love. It gives us adrenaline and power. Love makes us weak and vulnerable. Why should we love our neighbour when we can’t relate with them or even understand their language? The ‘us vs them’ propaganda has never failed yet. And here we are: the age of Brexit, the age of “lock them up!”, “send them home!” chants that will echo through the ages, if the ages will still be there 50 years from now.
But you’ll say: “the world is not that bleak! There is still good news in the world, don’t let the bad outweigh the good!” Unfortunately, the bad will always outweigh the good, just as the lies will prove to be more powerful and destructive than the truth. I hope I’m proven wrong, but the speed with which we live our lives has affected our thinking. We are too trigger-happy, ready to blurt out a half-formed opinion regardless of the damage it may cause.
In contrast with the UK political landscape of today, I feel I must quote from a transcript of a BBC lecture from 1949 I came upon, held by Robert Birley entitled Britain in Europe. Reflections on the development of a European society:
“We have a great deal to learn about Europe. In fact, we have little idea yet of the revolution in our ways of thinking that our decision to join Europe will involve. To prepare for this we may learn much from our past history, at times as an example to be followed, at times as a warning. But we must remember that our contribution towards creating a common tradition in the union cannot be made from our past, but only from our present, and anything we can offer will depend, first of all, on the vigour, the skill and the confidence we can muster to solve our own problems.”