After reading Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, I was drawn in to reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Unlike many, I wasn’t required to read it during high school, and Postman’s numerous references and comparisons to how prescient Huxley was piqued my curiosity about what could possibly be in it.
Knowing that the book was required high school reading, that it was written in the 1930’s, and that it was branded a classic, I approached the book cautiously, figuring I’d be bored to tears and struggle to move from page to page. To my surprise, Huxley’s work blew me away.
In addition to confirming all of Postman’s observations, I found the overall story to be deep and suspenseful. I had a hard time putting the book down and finished it in a surprisingly short amount of time.
I was captivated by the plot and amazed at the parallels between events in the book and the trajectory our society is on. Huxley does an amazing job of portraying how humans could be controlled by overwhelming their sensory input with so many conveniences, technology, and distractions, that they have no reason to think independently. When you consider how much of our life is controlled today by the technology around us, whether it is our computers, tablets, mobile phones or television, and how everyday diversions such as sports and entertainment influence our lives, it makes one wonder which direction we are heading – the Orwell state where the government controls us through constant surveillance, or the Huxley state where the government controls us by premitting us to be overwhelmed with diversions and distractions. Or as Postman put it
In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.
Brave New World is a must read book, especially after reading Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death. Even if you read the book in high school, after reading Postman’s work, you will see Huxley’s work in a different light. It will make you ponder and consider just what the advent of all of this technology around us is really doing to our lives.
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