There is no denying the passivity of the world today. The contemporary society is a society permeated with technology and specifically social media. Social media is a contemporary online society where passivity to real feelings is the order of the day. H.G. Wells The Time Machine and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World may have been written in previous eras but both predict the chaotic social media situation. An analysis of the two texts reveals that the imaginary worlds in the stories are lived in the actual world today and that technology plays a major role in enabling the current dysfunctional passive society as it does in the texts.
Social media is a defining feature of society today. It is the one place where the world is as united as it is divided. The Time Machine predicts this difficult relationship as exhibited by the Eloi and the Morlock. Commenting on their relationship the narrators says, “The two species that had resulted from the evolution of man were sliding down towards, or had already arrived at, an altogether new relationship,” (Ch. 7. Para.2). When the time traveller travels into the future he meets the Eloi who are kind to him and he thinks that they are peaceful. They are a perfect bunch until it is night time and he discovers that the Morlocks do not only work for the Eloi but are also dangerous nocturnal hunters. Social media is widely proposed as a place where people of all nations and colors are united. Looking at the millions of people and communities on the social media one would easily appreciate it as a united society. However, a closer look, such as the one that the Time Traveller has when he meets the Morlock at night, one realizes the fakeness of it all. Like the Morlock who work for the Eloi but also hunt them in the night, the social media is a platform of hate and backstabbing. People who would be on the same political team will be on each other’s neck disagreeing and having verbal fights over celebrities or racial issues. On the surface, the social media and online communities seem like the peaceful Eloi but a closer analysis reveals the darkness that sets in like the Morlock in the night. Similarly to The Time Machine, Brave New World predicts the fakeness of the assumed perfect world as exhibited by the social media.
The perfect world predicted in the Brave New World is entirely based on passiveness. Bernard questions, “What would it be like, if I were free-not enslaved by my conditioning,” (Ch. 6, Pt I). The dwellers in the World State are conditioned to have no feelings or emotions. They are not expected to have pity nor love. They are supposed to be perfect savages who are seemingly contented with their situations while a there is no place for true feelings. In the same manner, the social media allows people to be fake about who they are and what they feel. One can easily adapt any personality that can easily garner them fame even if negatively. Moreover, attacking and degrading of each other and especially of public figures is practiced widely and casually on the social media similar to the sex orgies in the Brave New World. Ironically, Huxley titled the book “Brave New World” which reflects the social media where people bravely attack others behind their technological gadgets without a single idea about their victims’ real lives. The hatching technology in the hatchery helps condition the subjects from having human emotion while the social media conditions people to be as savage and to hide emotions. Despite the attempts to suppress human feelings, Bernard is dissatisfied and seeks to have real emotion. Despite hiding on the social media people’s realities end up kicking in leading to rampant depression states and suicides among users who cannot intermarry the two. The technology that creates Bernard leads him to his undesirable death the same way as social media. Technology does not only stress out and conflict people’s emotions but has also created a virtual working community.
The Time Machine predicted a future society that would be too lazy and would have machines work for them. He says, “I never met people more indolent or more easily fatigued,” (Ch. 4, Para. 13). Technology and especially the internet has made this possible. By garnering fame on the internet and especially on social media, one can work from home without having to leave. With the social media and the internet in general, the current society easily fits as the lazy Eloi people he had met. The Eloi people, for instance, were too lazy to walk fast enough and keep up with him. People in contemporary society hardly have to walk long distances when they can easily sit and perform almost all of their duties behind the screen. Be it voting, working or socializing, the social media has allowed people to formally and informally do these things online. Thus the social media qualifies the contemporary society as the world that the Time Machine foresees. The Time Machine, as well as the Brave New World, predict this world of technology and internet that allows maintenance of meretricious felicity.
Social media, just like the world state have a way of creating superficial perfection. In the world state, the leaders take all the necessary precautions to ensure that the inhabitants of the world state are continuously happy. There is a plentiful supply of drugs apparently because “a gramme is better than a damn,” (Ch. 3, Para. 232). The subjects are conditioned and continuously monitored and distracted from paying attention to emotions and other intrinsic human issues. Social media provides a similar kind of therapy by presenting the user first with a range of social media platforms. Then there are the distractions in the form of ads, debates, news and verbal engagements which drive people away from internalizing their real lives. The cheap thrills and fast felicity that can be derived from the social media equates people to the dwellers of the world state who are detached from their actualities. Leaders can easily engage in manipulative propaganda to keep people away from real issues and policies that affect them, the same way the leaders in the world state use soma and drugs to control their subjects. Ultimately, both The Time Machine and the Brave New World envisioned the chaotic dysfunctional contemporary society that is united and divided by technology and also a society that is controlled by and through technology.
Evidently, both Wells and Huxley envisioned the current western world that is largely impacted and controlled by social media. The two foretell of a society where technology has the power to influence and conform a whole society. They also foresaw the contemporary western world in which social media has turned people dysfunctional and lazy. Amidst the confusion are superiors who utilize the same technology to dominate and control the people from engaging in genuine issues or feelings. Both texts are based on technologies and the social media has emerged as one of the most profound technological advancements that can control and sway the society as much as the fictional societies in the texts are impacted by technology.
- Huxley, Aldous. Brave new world. Chatto & Windus, 1932.
- Wells, Herbert George. The time machine. William Heinemann, 1895.