Stop comparing our time to “1984”. Every time someone says drones, Google, Facebook, NSA, Amazon, so on stop saying “Big Brother is watching us.” Every time you hear about AT&T and Verizon letting our numbers out stop claiming totalitarian state. Our world is not even a shadow of the horrors conjured from the Orwellian imagination.
Telescreen VS Television
In 1984 the telescreen is in every citizen’s room with optionless consent. It blasts only what the dictatorial government wants, typically cover-up propaganda droning on about the grace, wisdom, and victories of the party. It watches every citizen not allowing a corner to dress in private. Every morning the telescreen forces the prole out of bed to exercise. It constantly reminds people Big Brother is watching lest they even consider stepping out of line. Conversely, TV’s are in our homes by ready and eager purchase. We strive to have large sound systems and huge screens. Our smart TV’s have cameras, however we are more than welcome to permanently cover them. Even if we don’t, we have more to fear from citizen hackers and con artists than the government. We choose our variety of propaganda. MSNBC or FOX. PBS or MTV. We choose what we want to influence our world view. Personally selected propaganda is entertainment. The TV is a form of lounging and never made us exercise or get out of bed. Most of the entertainment we choose are people living extravagantly, outside the law, and utterly without limit. Not the other way around. The TV and telescreen are completely opposite in purpose and function.
In 1984 the party takes an enormous amount of interest in children restricting who can have them, when, and how many. Once of age they’re inducted into the Junior Spies. From then on parents live in fear of their spawn. Children rule the house as their parent’s kowtow to their whims and tantrums hoping not to “disappear”. More often than not the children are able to report something causing their parent’s demise. In our world we can breed totally recklessly and without means or forethought, if we so choose. Parent’s dictate the level of involvement and control they exert (as much as is possible with children) and while the government surely takes some interest in churning out functional citizens so as the GDP doesn’t sink too low, many kids are left to whims of their various cultures. The idea of parent’s living in fear of their children is frankly ridiculous.
1984, written before computers as we know them, uses inventive and complex mechanisms to watch and control its populace. Microphones and cameras hidden everywhere. Public transport is the only means of conveyance and the party’s helicopters whir through the sky keeping the proles in line. I concede drones are watching us and there are many cameras on ATM’s and buildings, but we the citizens carry cameras and own UAVs on a massive level. We speed about in our very own cars, captains of our personal routes and destinations. We are far more responsible for the watching of our fellows than the government. We buy GoPROs and IPhones rabidly. By the cart load. Upload our images with utter impatience and tweet our every thought with reckless abandon. The amount of content collected by our personally purchased devices, uploaded on billed data plans, and hosted on pages we create far outweighs what Orwell ever conceived.
Unspeak/Newspeak is one of the most brilliant and original of 1984‘s psychological controls. Orwell surmised if you controlled one’s ability to express one’s self you limit the ability of the structures and ideas that person can formulate. The party systematically did away with language forcing people to cater to the latest version of Newspeak without exception. In our world the government pays teachers to ensure we all speak and share a common language. They teach it far more fully than most of us ever use it. We are the ones who created “ain’t”, “I seen”, and “on fleek”. We take the full and rich tapestry of etymology and language structure and shorten to “BRB”, “ROFL”, and “WTF”. Not arguing the against the merits of short hand, but clearly we create and use unspeak much to the chagrin of the government paid English teacher.
One of the most glaring motifs of 1984 is sexual repression and monitoring. Winston, the main character, is almost immediately painted as sexually frustrated. The first mention of copulation between Winston and his former wife is awkward, forced, and highly unpleasant. It is portrayed as “disgusting” and “a political act”. Julia, Winston’s later love interest, is wearing an anti-sex sash when she is introduced. While this sash proves to be farce everyone is dressed in drab formless garb utterly unstimulated by each other due to self denial propagated through fear of the thought police. Conversely our culture oozes sexuality. From beer to flowers to rice, sex sells. We strive for perfect bodies in rooms full of windows or mirrors. We strut about shirtless in spandex. We design clubs around the mating rituals of grinding and twerking. Our celebrities sing about ass and abs. We have HiDef porn on our phones. The government rarely attempts to publicly meddle in our parade of curves, sweat, and gyrations. We are sexually liberated to a fever pitch every Saturday night if we so choose.
Its only fair to grant many of our freedoms are growing tenuous and under threat. We are watched, data collected, and subjugated through debt. However it is ridiculous to compare it to a totalitarian state, especially the nightmare of Orwell’s imagination. We take the pictures. We upload the video. We supply Google, Facebook, and Twitter with our families names. Our place of work. Our place of birth. Favorite movies, books, and music. Our phone numbers, addresses, hopes and dreams. We pay Verizon and AT&T to collect data on us for the use of their services. We know they are doing it. We know every picture we post and Tweet sent is in the cloud. We click “I agree to terms and conditions” without a second though. We want all our stuff out there. They are more than happy to accommodate for a fee. So the next time you think Big Brother is watching you, it’s only because you said “Look at me! Look at me!” Please stop comparing our world to Oceania. It’s foolish. Rather, remain vigilant so we never know that terrible existence.
Drive fast. Take chances. Thanks for reading.
So the rest of the ride went largely without incident. Made good time with the wind to my back for the most part. Google maps definitely sent me down some questionable roads. Three lanes wide with no shoulder. Hmmm… not great. Happily it wasn’t for more than three or so miles and the motorists were in general pretty courteous.
I arrived at Murrell Park located on the north side of the man-made Grapevine Lake about 5PM. There were no rangers to be found and no signs except ones declaring no drinking in public. I looked at my topographical printed map and guessed where my site would be located. After two wrong guesses I found Hippy Point where I had reserved my spot. Yes, Hippy Point. Unlike the commune imagery the name conjures I had it all to myself the first day. I stripped down to my spandex and dove into the glorious water. So good to be cool for the first time that day.
After getting my fill of swimming I began to set up camp. The sites were
reasonably nice with a grill, fire pit, a pavilion over a concrete picnic table, and modest tree cover. The tent went up lickity split and I began working on dinner. Unfortunately I missed my food stop somehow and was relegated to chips, an apple, and protein water.
I waited for the sun to set, went for another swim and made a few phone calls. After checking for any burn bans online I started up a fire. I sat watching it with some satisfaction sipping a small cup of Bulleit Rye Bourbon feeling good about the first day’s ride. I sat there until 10PM and scattered the embers. Winding down for bed I sat reading at the picnic table when a ranger walked up. We exchanged pleasantries and he asked if I had reserved the site online. I said yes, but I had not received an email about it. He told me that was odd and he would check it out in his truck. As his flashlight played about the table he saw the bourbon bottle, capped and nearly full. He said there was no drinking in public and I should know since there were signs everywhere. I said I did know and I wasn’t drinking it at all much less in public. I said this with respect and bit of frustration. He told me there was no alcohol allowed on Federal land. I was taken-a-back. When I got to the site there was an empty beer case by the fire pit and myriads of bottles around the site and lake. I explained I didn’t know that and began to wrap the bottle up. He said I would have to pour it out. I told him he wouldn’t see it again and continued to roll it in the cloth. He said I would just put it in my truck and pull it back out once he left. I said I was on my bike and was going to bed anyway so he didn’t need to worry about that. He seemed to let it go and asked me if I was there by myself. Yes, I told him. He seemed mildly confused by that. He told me to douse the embers and said he was going to check my reservation in the truck. Off he went and it must have checked out because a few moments later he pulled away. I waited for a short while to see if he was returning. Satisfied he wasn’t I turned in for the night.
I woke up about 8:30AM the next morning feeling reasonably well. I immediately went for a swim in a lagoon by my site and took a hobo’s bath. I set up a drying line and went off to the local store to get breakfast. The store was located at the marina and was attached to a small restaurant open only on the weekends. The store was sparse but had what I needed albeit for an arm and a leg. Larry, the owner, was friendly and had bright twinkling blue eyes. I commented it is nice to have a TV out there since it must get pretty slow sometimes. This caused Larry to launch into his life story about how he was a salesman of various services and amenities until he got into the collections business in the early ’90’s. He struck out on his own and in just over a year had 50 employees and ran collections for Bell Telephone company in four states. He made $250,000 for 12 years and then sold the company for $3 million. He said he bought the store to make some money but more because he wanted to watch TV, movies, and the like. I have no idea how much of it was true, but Larry spun a good yarn.
Off the dock people must have been feeding the aquatic life because there was quite the gathering there hoping I would give away some of my costly morsels. I teased them by spitting water amongst them sending the fish into a frenzy knocking aside the ducks and turtles. Sorry watery friends, but that food was just to expensive to give away.
After eating a hearty lunch I went out on a hike around the lake. The area was gorgeous and the wildlife prominent, however the human scarring was all to visible. All the sand stone had etchings in it. Mostly declarations of love or partnership, but it did not add to the majesty of the lake to say the least. There was trash and clothing every few feet. Seriously, who is loosing their underwear and not noticing? There were a few dead fish, but I am unsure what
the cause was since I saw many perfectly healthy fish and many many people with rod and reel.
The lake was lovely green blue and splashing in a stiff breeze. Like a fool I had gone hiking at the heat of the day and about a 3rd of the way around I began to fatigue and headed inland back to Hippy Point. The interior of the park has many mountain bike trails and seemed rather popular as it was rare to see one unoccupied. The floral and fauna left something to be desired. Mostly mesquite trees and tall grass. There was a meadow of wild flowers but they had begun to wilt due to the drought.
Once back at camp I waded out into the water and lowered my temp. The rest of the day was some variation of swimming, firewood gathering, eating, and chatting with the other campers. I did see the ranger cruise by in his truck just as I prepared my fire, but he took little interest in me much to my relief.
Enjoying the sound of the cranes as the sun fell I watched the fire crackle and marveled at the beauty all around me. I fell asleep to the sound of some teenagers splashing and laughing across the point.
Murrell Park was nice if not a bit sparse. The closest potable water was an 1/8th mile from me, and very little was clearly marked. All swimming is at your own risk and there is no formal beach, however the sand stone makes for very nice natural beaches in the lagoons. I enjoyed it for the solitude and $10 price tag, and the lake is huge so if you have a watercraft totally worth a day trip. If they could clean up the trash I would have enjoyed it far more, but my feet seemed in constant peril and the smile of rotting was a bit to common. Basically I wouldn’t send you there, but I wouldn’t talk you out of a weekend either.
I am half way to Ray Roberts State Park and will be playing a round of disc golf shortly at North Lakes Park in Denton, TX.
Drive fast. Take chances. Thanks for reading.