Current Events

Eight ways America is like a dystopian novel

Information is controlled by corporate media to maintain the status quo.

Algorithms anyone? Those algorithms curate the content we see online. Same news stories on repeat on every channel. We are told what to think and we comply. For instance, most people identify as Democrat or Republican. In a country of 325 million people, why do only two political parties dominate?

Alternative viewpoints and smaller political parties have existed for generations, but are continually suppressed. Leaders of organizations and individuals who question the status quo complain of having their websites and social media posts suppressed by algorithms. Are the good people I follow on social media all paranoid that their pages are shadowbanned?

Money, fame, and connections buy exposure.

Propaganda, propaganda and more propaganda.

prop·a·gan·da: Information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.

Google

American Media is a basically propaganda machine. Aside from hearing the same news stories over and over again, our viewpoints are shaped by our political affiliation.

Watch Fox News and CNN and you will come away with two completely different versions of anything dealing with President Trump. How do we know what actually happened?

I grew up believing that America must be the best country in the world and growing up anywhere else was unfortunate. I believed that capitalism was the only acceptable economic system, and socialism and communism were bad, not an alternative way of doing things.

I believed that for the most part, America was on the right side of history and was always striving to improve. (Talk about some cognitive dissonance growing up as a Black girl in America.)

I grew up believing that Africa was nothing but poor people– the images of destitute, starving, dark-skinned orphans, dirt roads, sewer lined streets was the only Africa that existed.

I remember the rhetoric used after the 9/11 terrorist attacks: Muslim jihadists, Muslim terrorists, Islamic extremists. You couldn’t hear the word Muslim or Islam on the news without it being connected to a word used to induce fear. (I do believe in a 9/11 conspiracy but that’s for another day.)

The image of the firemen raising an American Flag on the World Trade Center rubble is burned into my mind. I remember everyone feeling patriotic and warming up to a war in the middle east.

When I think back to watching the local news as a teenager in NC, all of the crime reports focused on a certain small city near Raleigh, called Durham. Those reports consistently showed black and brown mug shots and painted the Durham as a dangerous place. Black people from Durham were dangerous. I remember hearing jokes my classmates made about how dangerous this city was. We all believed the news

All of these sentiments were encouraged by the propaganda I was exposed to at school and while watching television.

Groups that can do no wrong.

No matter what political party you’re in, the American military can do no wrong. Have you ever seen a mainstream news outlet criticize the actions of our military’s behavior and actions abroad? Why does no one in the USA question our military’s presence worldwide? Why is it America’s job to “protect worldwide freedom?”

America itself can do no wrong.

American news outlets spend a ton of time criticizing other countries’ human rights violations when we should take some time to address our own.

In some ways, the police are a group of infallible people when it comes to violating human rights.

Huge swaths of homeless people.

There are 554,000 homeless people in the United States and no one cares. That’s more than half a million. The city of Atlanta has half a million people. The latest count of people in poverty is 39.7 million people. That’s the same number of people living in Japan.

What’s worse, the wealthy scorn people in poverty and blame them for their own condition. The main difference between the poor in the USA and the poor in a dystopian novel is in novels they all live in the same place. Oh, wait… some cities are mostly poor people.

Imagine if all the poor people united and confronted the wealthy or the government. Then what would happen?

Image by AD_Images from Pixabay

Big Brother is Listening…

…and tracking your every move. NSA, Facebook, Google, Amazon Alexa. Yes, the conversation you had about some random product is now being sold to you in a targeted ad. Do you really think they’re only listening to sell us stuff?

These companies swear it’s a coincidence, that they know our needs, and that they use our search history. But I finally have proof. My husband and I were talking about Title IX and how it protects female athletes. I got an advertisement for a clothing company called title nine. I should have taken a screenshot.

Human rights are political.

People of color are disproportionally affected by police incarceration. Punishment for crimes is determined based on the color of your skin. These are facts. They may not be written literally, as official policy, but it’s reality.

 Speaking up in mixed company might get you accused of pulling the “race card” or stirring up “white guilt.”

Everyone–including businesses–felt comfortable about speaking against the genocide in Darfur. But the genocide happening stateside is too political. Police kill black men and boys, stripping their right to due process.

Colin Kaepernick lost his job because he made a simple, respectful protest. 

People who legitimately threaten the status quo are often caught on false charges, assassinated or “wind up” dead.

Our country is run by corporations. Advocate against big Pharma, big-Agriculture, or civil injustices with a solution that can destroy the system, and you may be labeled as a criminal. You might be assassinated.

Dr. Sebi claimed to have cured AIDS and other diseases. He beat the NY attorney general in court over these claims. This was never wildly publicized. A few years ago, they arrested him on money laundering, and he died before he could stand trial.

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s family also won a civil case in Tennesee that claimed the federal government was involved in a conspiracy to assassinate MLK Jr. Of course, the justice department has rebuked the claims. But that’s what happens in a dystopia. The truth is hard to find.

Others have argued that Malcolm X was also assassinated in a conspiracy by the FBI. This is mentioned, but not investigated thoroughly enough, in my opinion, in the most recent Netflix docuseries. The narrator squares his focus on one man who was supposedly prompted to commit the crime by the Nation of Islam. The docuseries suggests that the man might have also been working for the feds. But that point is not reiterated as it should have been, as true to most propaganda. What baffles me the most about the docuseries is that it does mention the 9 informants in the room during the killing who did not testify in the court case. That seems to be a little excessive for someone who “wasn’t” killed by the government. An ordinary citizen may have killed Malcolm X, but the government’s involvement seems like a much bigger problem than one man’s actions, don’t you think?

If we fast forward a few decades, we learn that six Black Lives Matter Activists in Ferguson have been killed. Whether they were committed by the KKK or an organization with more power remains to be seen.

Social media culture portrays a false version of reality.

A few years back, I saw an interesting Black Mirror episode called Nose Dive where the main character’s actions are ranked on a social media site. Her social media standing is of the utmost importance and impacts her real life. The character cannot be honest and genuine in the real world because she is trying to protect her social media status.

We package ourselves as perfect people, cut out the ugly part of our lives and let everyone see us through Instagram filters. Everything, including our relationships, are on display, but what we see about others isn’t completely real. Even our traumas are dressed up as beautiful tragedies.

That blue checkmark (and follower counts) creates social stratification and status. A national popularity contest. High status on social media sites denotes status in the real world. There was a mural in LA where only social media influencers could take pictures in 2018.

We live in a culture where we worship celebrities. We don’t know the real people behind their images, even if social media would have us think otherwise. We act as if we know them because we “follow” them. But the reality is they are people packaged as products for us to consume. And consume we do–to the extent that we act online, but not in the real world.

Do you think America has any other characteristics of a dystopia?

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