Don't Like This

Like It (Don't Like It)

The above quote from George Orwell is quite troubling when put into the context of Like, Tweet, +1, etc - especially when combined with the knowledge of our skewed news organizations (not Conservative vs Liberal, just skewed in general). Are we moving towards this sort of mentality? Is it happening so slowly that we won't even realize we're in the world of Idiocracy? If so, can it even be stopped?

Food for thought, that's all. via Jed.


  • That's pretty much why I'm morally opposed to "liking" things on thefacebook. It's the dumbing down of communication. Just make a freaking comment.
    mattyc on Wednesday, July 13th, 2011 @ 11:35am
  • ... why is there no Like button for this post? =P
    Toby Benjamin on Wednesday, July 13th, 2011 @ 12:02pm
  • I counter this through meditation. Instant consciousness-expansion!
    Stacy on Wednesday, July 13th, 2011 @ 12:07pm
  • It's interesting when thinking about what "Newspeak" has done to political discussion. It definitely does seem that the result ends up being two highly generalized points of view, with any distinct voice being sucked up by the gravity of the extremes.
    Amir on Wednesday, July 13th, 2011 @ 12:09pm
  • This goes nicely with a little piece of a write-up about hamburgers by Alec Rojas at The Fox Is Black: "The word “good”, for example, is rarely used these days to define whether something is actually good or not. It's a word of approval for the speaker..."
    Brian M on Wednesday, July 13th, 2011 @ 12:21pm
  • Just wait...
    Renaud on Wednesday, July 13th, 2011 @ 1:02pm
  • Actually, I don't see much correlation in juxtaposing the Orwell quote with Like buttons or +1's. Largely because the comment feature is just as prevalent, if not more, than these quick buttons. That is to say, when all features of social media are taken into account, it actually increases our voice by facilitating human connection and creating a platform for communication. Of course, there has always been the ratio of 90/10 of content consumers to creators, so it will always be much easier to +1 than to type something out.
    Jeremy on Wednesday, July 13th, 2011 @ 2:03pm
  • @Renaud - Insider knowledge makes me uneasy. haha
    Josh on Wednesday, July 13th, 2011 @ 4:30pm
  • I've always wanted a different button for facebook. It sounds wrong to "Like" a status talking about something sad or unfair. I'd like to let the person know I read it and I support them, but I'd have no idea of what to say in a comment. I think that the benefit of having just that type of button is that it focuses on positivity. I see the newspeak, though.
    Ava on Wednesday, July 13th, 2011 @ 4:31pm
  • Double plus like
    Scott Falkner on Wednesday, July 13th, 2011 @ 5:14pm
  • Ava, just wait...
    Renaud on Wednesday, July 13th, 2011 @ 5:18pm
  • I don't know if Orwell knew it or not, but the underlying assumption of that passage--that unsayable concepts are also unthinkable--is fairly well-established as a fallacy. Your language can determine things that you must think about (like the time of an action relative to the present: English requires verbs to have tense), but it can't prevent you from thinking about things in a way that your language doesn't usually encourage (like how Einstein's concept of space and time both being parts of the fabric of the universe or whatever is very different from the everyday time metaphors used in German, which are pretty much the same as those of English). Thought control through language is doomed to failure.
    Dschonn on Wednesday, July 13th, 2011 @ 9:07pm
  • oh man, @Renaud, will it be a "hug" button? or a wee gif of a little dude with tears pouring out his face and collecting into a river that carries the letters of their status away from your home page? or music from a violin the size of a quark-pixel being played? or a function where you can pick which color, then add an aura to your friends' profile pic? or just an "add kittens" button? all pictures of food automatically scratch and sniff? or a 'paint' function where you can literally tag your friends' profiles with graffiti public-bathroom-style? {if I guessed right, can I have a job making up important far-out things to add to the internet? ;)}
    Zea on Wednesday, July 13th, 2011 @ 10:47pm
  • And yet, somehow we all seem to retain the ability to have this discussion. Storm in a teacup much?
    sarahj on Wednesday, July 13th, 2011 @ 11:42pm
  • I wonder how Wells, who slammed Huxley for Brave New World, would react...
    Audiovore on Thursday, July 14th, 2011 @ 6:26am
  • Facebook is not a place of friends. It is like the the high school lunch room where you need to guard what you say for fear of it being used against you. Friends are already spending time with you. They don't need some cheesy web page to do that. You can speak your mind around them.
    Poopy McStinkerson on Thursday, July 14th, 2011 @ 6:52am
  • I disagree with George O's forecasting. Language isn't being contracted. Its being expanded. There's more bloggers, tweeters, reporters etc than there ever has been and even harder to shut them up. Orwell predicted a world where the population would be beaten down into submission through fear, paranoia and intimidation (and for some people in some parts of the world that's a reality), but I think that for most of the Western World we follow an Aldous Huxley's A Brave New World reality. Coercion through distraction. The pursuit for happiness is the end all and be all. Apparently if it doesn't make you happy, its not worth doing. Politics, Problem Solving, Hard Work and real sacrifice aren't very fun; its better to follow your dreams... right?
    JustynaMc on Thursday, July 14th, 2011 @ 8:32am
  • Audiovore, JustynaMc - couldn't agree more. Excellent points.
    Michael on Thursday, July 14th, 2011 @ 8:47am
  • +1.
    John on Thursday, July 14th, 2011 @ 10:14am
  • Like!
    Carlos Mal on Thursday, July 14th, 2011 @ 10:51am
  • shorter
    james on Thursday, July 14th, 2011 @ 12:56pm
  • @Dshonn I find the connection between language and thoughts really fascinating. Do you have any evidence besides Einstein's stretching our concept of time that proves that the limits of language do not limit our thoughts? Certainly people (particularly geniuses like Einstein) can think in ways that are somewhat outside our normal language patterns; that's where many new words come from. However, it seems that language provides the structure and boundaries of thought for most people most of the time. The study reported on here ( seems to suggest that; a group of deaf people use an informal sign language that does not include a way to communicate large numbers, and they can't count past three. The concept that control of language confers great power is significant in postmodern literary thought (at least as I understand it; I am certainly no expert there). I have also experienced this my own life; I learn a new word or group of words, and then I have new categories in which to think about things, and the way I think about them changes. At the very least, language control can provide thought control of a society in general. If I have a thought that I cannot express, I cannot share that thought, and even the smartest among us would not get very far if each of us had to start our thinking from scratch and proceed without any assistance (cf. Newton "standing on the shoulders of giants"). Perhaps one could commit thoughtcrime, but one would probably not get far enough with it to cause Big Brother any real trouble.
    Stephen on Thursday, July 14th, 2011 @ 2:39pm
  • I though about it as well. wtf there is no don't like button?
    Sma on Thursday, July 14th, 2011 @ 4:17pm
  • Lawlz, I say! Not LOL nor even ROFL, but bonafide lawlz... if only! I for one would welcome a communal culling of the moronic neologisms that have evolved to flog the interwebnets, of which blog, vlog, blogosphere, webinar, wiki, netiquette, and blook are merely the most despised examples.
    ninjadick on Thursday, July 14th, 2011 @ 5:33pm
  • What I wonder about is the whole concept of Friends or Circles or Followers - no levels allowed. No acquaintances, no compadres, no disagreements. It's black or white, us vs. them, etc.
    David Engel on Sunday, July 17th, 2011 @ 7:40am
  • Qualification of content should be left to your brain and to the brains of the people with whom you share...every time you share something. Self-promotion or attribution for a find is another thing. No "Like" or "plus1" or any rating system works perfectly. You and your friends form a mini-lexicon of terms that constantly fluctuates which determines how you speak positively or negatively of things. It just takes anything good. It's done on a case-by-case basis and is never interpreted precisely. That's largely the fun of language and individuality, but is also the reason the "Like" button or anything like it loses meaning after a couple degrees of separation. I should say it loses context, which to me is everything.
    Christopher (C Dub) on Sunday, July 17th, 2011 @ 11:26am
  • Stephen, all your examples are compelling. It makes me think that in some ways the two sides of this argument are simply different ways of interpreting the same facts. For example, I would say that it's probably their lack of language (the article implies that their system of gestures doesn't have the complexity of a language) that limits these deaf Nicaraguans' ability to count past three rather than the way they "say" the numbers. Children neglected and deprived of linguistic stimuli when they are at the language-learning age never learn any language with the fluency of a native speaker, and have serious cognitive disabilities because of that. Deaf children are more likely to be deprived of linguistic stimuli than other children, since most language is made of sound. If they'd been taught a sign language, they would be able to count. It's crazy to me, by the way, that they can't even count the fingers of one hand. The idea I tried to express before, to quote Roman Jakobson, is that: "Languages differ essentially in what they must convey and not in what they may convey." This notion is called Linguistic Relativity (at least by Wikipedia: Here's a New York Times article ( that discusses the whole issue at some length (that's where I got that Jakobson quotation). It's also been mentioned in several books I've read, but I don't want to overwhelm you with reading material. Anyway, I guess there's another assumption that Orwell is making that I disagree with: that language can be controlled at all. The Académie française has been trying to control the French language for centuries and has had severely limited success. Similar official bodies in other countries have fared no better. People will talk the way they want to talk regardless of what the authorities say is right, and if they pay any attention at all, it's to flout the rules rather than follow them.
    Dschonn on Monday, July 18th, 2011 @ 2:53am

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