Op-Ed Draft — morra2024


The future does not look bright: a dystopia is inevitably imminent. Worst of all, it is going to be our own creation. The combination of consumerism and manmade surveillance technologies will turn us into hedonistic screen addicts, which greatly resembles the future described by Aldous Huxley in “Brave New World.” Mankind’s existing culture of “self-surveillance” is the biggest contributing factor to the dystopia’s development. Governments only collect what we willingly provide, such as our devices’ location-tracking services, our daily (potentially intimate) photo uploads to social media, and ceaseless messengers-based communication that jeopardizes everybody close to us. We are the “Big Brother” we have to fear, not the state.

Governments have absolute awareness of our lives – a situation that mirrors Orwell’s description of a dystopia. Presently, countries like China have already become surveillance states, using artificial-intelligence-based technologies for tracking purposes, e.g. ubiquitous cameras and the social credit system. Such software is so advanced that it knows us better than we do. For example, programs can even effortlessly determine an individual’s sexual orientation. According to some, these technologies can be closely monitored for the prevention of bias and misuse, as well as that law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear. However, experts state that software has been developing so terrifyingly rapidly that its structure and algorithms are no longer understandable to its creators. 

Even more uncanny is the resemblance of our world to Huxley’s description. Enthusiast Stuart McMillen visually illustrates that we already are a population consisting entirely of hedonistic distraction-addicts. In such a world, the high-quality truthful information is drowned in the sea of false and/or meaningless capitalist trivia; monitoring people becomes redundant because of their passivity. These predictions are slowly coming true. According to studies, we suffer from information overload, consuming 30 gigabytes daily (200 times more than our great-grandparents!) which has led to massive attention deficit. Even a goldfish’s attention span (6 seconds) is greater than ours (5 seconds)! This information overload is caused by the unlimited advertisements of corporations, who greatly benefit from it. They use tracking technologies to trap us in an endless consumerist loop, which proves Huxley’s views that “People are controlled by inflicting pleasure,” and “Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.” 

Time is our most valuable, non-replenishable resource, which should not be wasted. Distraction-addictions dull our life-views and prevent us from self-actualizing and simply living life to the fullest. A proposed solution, typically advocated by gurus and influencers, is to have an information diet, i.e drastically reduce consumption of unimportant information. Regardless of the approach, the goal should be to use our limited time as wisely as possible; as we, not the state or corporations, see fit.


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2 Responses to Op-Ed Draft — morra2024

  1. davidbdale says:

    P1. You’re making strong claims in your first paragraph but getting in your own way, Morra. You want the dystopia to result from 1) consumerism and 2) self-surveillance. But they’re not easy collaborators. Consumerism might addict us to our screens, but how does surveillance contribute to screen addiction unless you mean we’ll spend our time surveilling others? The claim is just unclear. By itself, the surveillance topic is clear and well-argued. I see the reason to evoke Huxley so you can make the Big Brother citation, but his hedonism theme doesn’t easily fit into this surveillance paragraph.

    P2. (I don’t see the value of calling out “a” dystopia. Whichever one we inhabit will be ours; your essay needs only one.) You need a bit of transition from the Chinese surveillance state to “knows us better than we do,” which insinuates that the Chinese government knows us. You need another to transition from “determine an individual’s sexual orientation” to “prevention of bias and misuse.” Readers trying to follow your quick gear shifts are expecting the allegation of abuse FIRST before the exoneration. You say: sexual orientation . . . can be closely monitored, so your readers think you’re first going to raise the danger that our every INCLINATION, not only our ACTIONS are going to be monitored, a reasonable conclusion. You shift us away from that though, before making the allegation. And then back again to “nobody knows what the machines will decide for us.”

    P3. Are you planning to show us some Stuart McMillen? Without a picture, we don’t know what his illustrations illustrate. The spectre of a world without truth is terrifying of course, but in raising it you shrug off your earlier terror: that we’ll destroy our freedoms by surveilling ourselves. Already you claim that “monitoring people becomes irrelevant.”

    Contrary to your claim that “these predictions are slowly coming true,” your predictions arrive and depart with blinding speed. You oddly pair a citation ABOUT Huxley with a citation OF Huxley. Quite jarring. He appears to be talking about himself. Doubtful.

    P4. My goodness, Morra. You’ve squeezed so many themes into these few words I can’t keep my wits. But if you’re going to try to blend surveillance, self-surveillance, distraction addiction, and self-actualization into the same article, I suggest your identify the nexus of those elements VERY EARLY and name THE DEVICES as the villains of your piece.

    We carry them with us, photograph ourselves with them, publish an endless stream of information about ourselves to the merciless world with them, suck information from them voraciously, buy what they offer us without regard to need, etc., etc. And with them we give over control of our lives to our powerful oppressors: the Company and the State, which are quickly merging into one. Our only hope is to unplug. That seems to be your argument.



  2. morra2024 says:

    Professor, after many revisions I finally uploaded my draft of the Op-Ed.
    Can I have as much feedback as possible, please? Regarding the structure, concision, readability, and how easy it is to understand. Maybe some strategic tips if you have any?


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