I recently finished the novel “Fahrenheit 451,” a novel written by Ray Bradbury. The scariest part about reading the novel is that although it was published in 1953, many aspects of the novel’s dystopian society have leaked into our present society.
In the book, the “firemen” are in charge of burning books, because reading a book gives the user a superiority complex over someone who isn’t well read. In order to make everyone equal, books had to be abolished and everyone needed to enjoy the same media. The task of converting people to strictly visual arts, and not text, proves to be quite easy, since the people of “Fahrenheit’s” society prefer the visual arts anyway. Sound familiar?
In our society, visual media has completely taken over, and we habitually flock to the same programming. We all watch the same news, which is either pro-left or pro-right, and most prefer a movie to a book because of its quick digestible information and the fact that it’s more aesthetically pleasing. Beaty, the leader of the firemen, tells Montag, the story’s protagonist, that comics took the popularity out of books, and film and television stole the crown from comic books.
Our society follows a similar pattern, where comic books and manga have found their own strict fan bases. However, film and television have risen to the top quite quickly. We have become a culture with incredible multi-tasking abilities, but sadly inattentive traits, which we share with the people of “Fahrenheit 451.”
Even with the emergence of Vine, a popular video social-networking application, our abilities to focus on long videos are dwindling. Vine, and its brethren Instagram, allow users to post videos on their feeds, however, the catch is that the videos can only range from seven to 16 seconds long. While the video time limit is restricted on both apps, the time limit isn’t restricted on popular sites such as YouTube. However, I am seeing a trend of short videos being posted to these other sites as well. The videos are certainly creative, given their time restrictions, but it is a scary sight when someone claims that even a minute-long video is too long.
Are we even losing our abilities to retain our attention on the visual arts as well? Maybe this isn’t a bad thing, and I am just being an old humbug that doesn’t want change, however, dystopian works are a warning, and I see our society on a fast track to its own demise.
I urge everyone to, every now and then, step away from your phones and television sets and pick up a good book. Books strengthen our minds in eclectic ways, and one just might learn a thing or two after it is completed. In order to become a better generation, I believe that it is imperative that we create a balance of reading and visual mediums, become adept at both arts, and use each to its particular advantage.