Written by Silas Babilonia
In the year 1949, George Orwell wrote a dystopian book that would forever change the way that humanity looked at political structures. In the strange futuristic world of “1984,” he attempted to describe a world in which people had no control over their lives. In this world of unchecked government and social regulation, there was a Ministry of Truth, regulating all information which would be seen by the masses. There were often blatant lies and propaganda inserted as the “truth.” However, no one knew this outside of the Ministry of Truth. Today, this same phenomenon is happening right before our eyes. It remains a mystery how the masses still cannot see past such a blatant delusion.
One of the most important concepts in Orwell’s book is the ability to say one thing and do another. In this dystopia, there is a concept known as “doublethink.” It is the word used to describe when one is holding two contradictory concepts in mind and accepting of both of them at the same time. The Ministry of Truth is the epitome of “doublethink,” for it claims to stand for absolute truth by spreading absolute lies. It is the belief that one is justified in their actions that makes them feel comfortable committing acts that go directly against the very ideas they claim to enforce. This strange phenomenon is becoming an unfortunate reality within our own world.
There has been a recent movement in the mainstream media to crack down on “fake news.” Described as dangerous by political leaders and popular news outlets across the world, it seems as though “fake news” threatens our very way of life. This so-called “fake news” is generally reporting on something that happens only with smaller, non-reputable sources of information that cannot defend themselves with a larger platform. Coincidentally, the term “fake news” is never applied to corporate news outlets. In 2011, six corporations owned 90 percent of the media in the United States, and not much has changed. When our interaction with information is under the consolidated control of a small network of CEOs and businessmen, is it any wonder they strike at their informational opponents?
In an age of whistleblowers and alternative news sources with increasing factual transparency, the government and propagators of the status quo have now opted for the term “fake news” as their battle cry. It is the classic dystopian beginning, using the “doublethink” rhetoric, that only by controlling the news of the masses without their consent are they able to distinguish the truth from fiction. It is almost a mockery in its simplicity, stating in plain terms that the American public is too naïve or ignorant to actually be able to find the truth for themselves. The mainstream media desires a singular narrative and they are willing to crush any opposition to that which rejects their ideals, similar to the government put forth in “1984.” It is an unsettling image that most are not even willing to conceive of, let alone try to accept.
Those in power do not care about protecting us from falsehood; they care about stopping us from finding out the falsehoods they have had us believe for so long. The real truth is that you cannot separate “fake news” from “real news,” for they are dependent on one another and more subjective than one would like to imagine. It is up to the individual, not the government or the news media, to regulate what people are allowed to think or believe. It is up to us, as individuals, to allow ourselves the freedom to explore different avenues of thought and come to our own educated opinions. The real “truth” can only come from multiple sources and the trained ability to discern what is fact or fiction, without the forced guidance of media oversight.
The fight against “fake news” is not some benevolent crusade meant to help people find the reality of events as they happen; it is the new cover for silencing opposition of thought. It is simply the definition of “doublethink:” using power to quiet and suppress alternative views that question the status quo so they can present their own distorted version of the truth. If it is not in line with the government or the massive corporations, it will be regulated, silenced or ignored entirely. The government should never be given absolute control over the sources of information to its citizens; that is how you create a dystopia like “1984.” We can already see modern-day “Ministries of Truth” scattered all over the world, through various dictatorships and power-hungry governments. Do we really want the same to happen in the United States of America?