Social critic Neil Postman contrasts the worlds of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World in the foreword of his 1985 book Amusing Ourselves to Death. He writes:
What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy (An advanced, consumerist form of tetherball played by the children in Aldous Huxley's novel).
As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that our desire will ruin us.
In our class discussion we have mentioned the increasing amount of information available for us to "consume." Does the Networked society bring us closer to Huxley's fear that we would have so much information as to be reduced to passivity and irrelevance, or does it walk the fine line between these two contrasting, futuristic outlooks?