“1984” and Media Brainwashing

The cover of 1984, which illustrates an all seeing eye that makes sure everyone agrees with the government’s ideologies.

Lancy Shi

The cover of 1984, which illustrates an all seeing eye that makes sure everyone agrees with the government’s ideologies.

Lancy Shi, Photojournalist

Have you ever taken a moment to truly think? Think about why you perceive things the way you do? Think about why you have the opinions that you have? The answer is experience. Humans, at their core, are all the same, but they live different lives and are surrounded by different people. It is through the media and having conversations with others that people formulate opinions and thoughts. So the questions lie: How does one know what is true and what is fake? How can one formulate individual thought when there is so much bias in the world?


“1984” is a dystopian science fiction novel written by the English novelist, George Orwell. While the story was first published in 1949, the message and themes still continue till the present day. Orwell’s original intention was to write a novel warning the general public about communism and the dangers of absolute power. In Orwell’s version of England, the government is divided into four ministries, and the citizens all look up to one political figure who is named Big Brother. The main protagonist, Winston Smith, works in the Ministry of Truth, which is a very ironic name since, “mistaken prophecies uttered by Big Brother, have been rewritten a dozen times”, and “books, also, were recalled and rewritten again and again, and were invariably reissued without any admission that any alteration had been made”(Orwell 40). Basically, the government keeps editing and re-editing things to brainwash the citizens into believing the same things they believe, essentially creating their own version of “history”.


Even though the main theme is about the government, that is not the only thing that can create fake news and mislead people. Obviously, most will think that this kind of government rising into power is very unlikely. However, the part about people blindly believing everything the media or government says is not that much of an exaggeration from the world today. Just think about how many times a person will see something on TikTok, and immediately share it with their friends without even checking where the original source came from. Or the fact that some people genuinely believe that the earth is flat and that vaccines aren’t effective. How do these people even come up with these conclusions? The answer is that they blindly believe the first thing they see and the first people they talk to. They are formulating thoughts through their perception. The only thing is that their perception is very shallow and mostly one sided, just like the people in Orwell’s warning of the future . It is so easy for people on the internet to spread fake news, and it is just as easy to get a swarm of brain dead people to truly believe in what they want them to believe because these people are too lazy to do their own research. In “1984”, the concept of “history” and “what is the truth” is so jumbled that nobody even knows what to believe, so they choose the easy way: by believing exactly what they are told and not even questioning it when something clearly does not add up.


The problem is, the human brain is lazy. It wants to be spoon fed content, which is why social media is so popular. Why bother spending 2 hours on google when a short one sided video can explain everything? It is so much easier to just believe everything; hence, why the citizens in Orwell’s book do the exact same, just on a more extreme level. The world might be heading down a slope where people become dumber and lazier as generations go by, and eventually it will be possible for a society similar to the one in “1984” to form. Maybe not in a “governmental control” type of way, but in a “lack of thinking” type of way. While the concept of thought might not become an illegal crime, like in the book, there is a chance someone will be given a side eye when it comes to trying to perceive situations in a different way than what was given.


Fake news isn’t just something only a dictatorship type government can create and spread. It happens everyday in every place, and it is definitely not going to slow down with the rise of social media. John Domen (Staff), who just taught his World History class about bias and primary/secondary sources, warns his students to “be wary of the use of algorithms in social media because sometimes the information could lead you astray”. It is important for the students of YLHS to understand the importance of independent thinking and formulating strong opinions based on facts and logic instead of popular perception.