The novel “Fahrenheit 451” is Ray Bradbury’s, magnum opus that paints a dystopian picture where tangible knowledge is actively destroyed and replaced with attractive, technologically advanced placeholders to distract and control the general public. We, as a society, are obviously very far from literal book burning; however, we are not too far off from flooding ourselves with shallow information to distract ourselves from the divisive times that we are in.
Each and every member of Generations Y and Z has been guilty of this self-sedation, regardless of the format in which they decide to digest it. Across the board, people who reside within the age group of 18-34 check their phones on an average of 157 times per day, according to Michelle Klein, Facebook’s Head of Marketing.
Although the reach of the internet expands farther than the eye can see, and is an excellent resource for scholarly, informative knowledge, the allure of the easily digestible information that all forms of social media feed us is not easily avoided. The shallow knowledge that fills our minds is almost addicting and gives us the same satisfaction as filling our brain with topics not so shallow.
This self-satisfaction is becoming a crutch. We have become desensitized to mass shootings just by the frequency of which they occur. That desensitization, once mixed with the sedation of superficial information, becomes a toxic witch’s brew. Catastrophe and dissatisfaction become normalized. Sedation to gain satisfaction becomes commonplace. Acceptance of what should not leave one content becomes reality. This is the exact mindset that leaves the general public existing in “Fahrenheit 451” to navigate a world where even the slightest individuality is punishable by exile, or worse.
What makes our situation more detrimental is that what we are doing is worse than what takes place in “Fahrenheit 451.” Nobody is burning our books. Nobody is going to great lengths to take away our substantial, multi-interpreted information because we are actively rejecting it out of fear, laziness or lack of interest. If we do not take an active interest in how we are informed, what kind of source is informing us, and how this information affects us, then we could possibly lose the choice to even discuss the matter.
Another parallel to be considered from “Fahrenheit 451” should be Granger and the collective of book learners. They are social outcasts who have had to flee from their homes for the sole task of memorizing parts of books to document when the society around them inevitably crumbles. This knowledge is like gold to them; the most valuable thing the world needs once the abusive patriarchy in “Fahrenheit 451” fails.
Our world is not set to crumble anytime soon, but that does not diminish the worth of retained, practical knowledge. Challenging topics, multi-faceted opinions, and lessons learned from fiction are invaluable for the sake of introspection; and therefore invaluable to the world. The moment we reach a consensus by force on a topic that should always remain open to opinion is the moment we lose any sway over the outcome of what’s going on around us. Feel your feelings, read and discuss to turn those feelings into concrete opinions, argue and discuss those opinions. If we sedate that within ourselves, then we sedate an inherent part of our humanity that should stay alive, at any cost.
– Joshua Kayo is an English junior