On Fahrenheit 451 And Kindles

It’s super ironic to read “Fahrenheit 451” on a Kindle.

Thus spoke /u/Fred6567 in in a post to /r/showerthoughts. Truth be told, I gladly agree with him/her. In our age of digital publishing and consumption and where anyone with an Internet connection can become a journalist overnight, in our world where the media controls the emotions and viewpoints of a majority of people, Ray Bradbury’s seminal piece ‘Fahrenheit 451’ holds more value than ever before.

We are shifting from physical books to digital reading devices like the Kindle and Kobo, even as the rate of deforestation skyrockets. News outlets and the media in general brainwash the majority of people, snaring them in trivial topics like reality shows, when the world around us burns and withers under all the harm mankind has done

Of course, I don’t want this post to be a rant; they serve no purpose after all. I still remember the first time I read Fahrenheit 451, my fingers trembled as I realised how close we are to the dystopian future depicted in it. People whizz about carelessly, too busy with their superfast lives, not once stopping to reflect, introspect or change themselves. Everyone’s talking and everyone’s listening, but the noise is too much that we filter out everything. Silence is nowhere to be found. Deep down inside, a lot of us miss the way things used to be, most of us long for a bit of quiet time, relaxing in the vast void around us, that on another different level is teeming with life and activity. I know I do, and I guess you wish the same thing too.

It’s not that I’m against the Kindle. I just prefer the feel of a physical book in my hands, the flutter of paper as I turn it, to watch the story unfold in my head, the smell of paper, possibly older than myself. In this world where digital content is present in quantity and lacking in quality, it makes books all the more important. Social networks give us the feeling of being more connected when in reality we are more isolated than ever before.

Mildred, the wife of Guy Montag, the protagonist in ‘Fahrenheit 451’, reminds me of our generation; too lost in the “social” around us, drowning in the sound, yet refusing to accept it.

We are connected all the time, not to real family, but to echo chambers.

The “family” seems real and friendly but it couldn’t be farther from the truth. In the end, the digital lives we lead and the fun things we do there seem of more value than real-life activities. We simply forget the value of intellectually-stimulating activities, instead going out on dopamine-hunts, looking for instant gratification.

In the end, I don’t intend to paint a grim picture of our future. I’m just foresaying how our future will be. The rate at which we’re diving deeper into our digital psuedo-lives, the day isn’t far when books will be burnt and the firemen become the grim reaper of free speech.


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