I was just thinking about 1984. The book, not the year. Orwell’s fear that Big Brother would turn us all into regimented clones turned out to be unfounded.
Don’t get me wrong. We do live in an Orwellian dystopia. The sad irony is that we didn’t need Big Government to shackle us – we did it to ourselves.
We’ve willingly given up our freedom and individuality to self-imposed enslavement by the deafening drumbeat of identity politics, political correctness and a never-ending stream of cultural norms that are constantly drilled into our heads through the peer pressure of our very own social media echo chambers.
Granted, our collective obsession with smartphones and social media exploits the human brain’s survival mechanism, but the neocortex — our thinking brain — has the ability to overrule those ancient instincts, as I explain in Real Leaders Don’t Follow.
Big government isn’t helping either, but this has largely been a grass roots trend, not a centralized one. You can blame it all on the technology, but Big Tech is not the enemy. Each of us has to willingly choose this path.
Here’s the thing. Unique individuals who think and act differently are solely responsible for the advancement of civilization, much like rare, benevolent mutations are solely responsible for the evolution of our species. As we lose our individuality and society devolves into mediocrity, civilization will inevitably stagnate and eventually decline.
That is the only logical outcome to our cultural trajectory. Unless of course some unique individuals break from the status quo and change it, one at a time. That may be obvious to you and me, but of course, we’re in our own little echo chamber here, benevolent as it may be. So there is that.
I guess the message is, whatever you do, never give up your individuality. I do think that is the great cause of our time. Spread the word.
Hat tip to Ayn Rand, who saw this coming way before Orwell.
Image credit Bousure via Flickr