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 Where is truth to be found?
Topic Originator: OzPar  
Date:   Thu 14 Mar 12:13

In George Orwell`s 1984, the famous line, "Who controls the past, controls the future: who controls the present, controls the past", encapsulates the ruling party`s strategy of rewriting history to maintain its grip on power and shape the future according to its will.

The disappearance of books and the distortion of history were powerful symbols of the danger of totalitarianism and the importance of preserving truth and knowledge. I would bet that when most of us first read 1984, we would have seen it as a warning of dark possibilities rather than a reflection of our lives. Can the same be said today?

I popped into my local library yesterday to attend a community meeting. I hadn`t been in the library for four or maybe five years, and my immediate impression was how little space was given to books. These days, much of the space has been divided into different-sized cubicles and various activity centres geared to, among other things, preschool children, education for pregnant mothers, and yoga areas for retirees. I would estimate that a third of the building is allocated to books and reading areas, and perhaps another 20% is allocated to desks with computer terminals.

This got me wondering what happened to all those books previously in this library and thousands of libraries around the country, which, too, I assume, had undergone similar transformations. Are they all in some immense storage complex hidden in the Outback? Or, more likely, did they end up in an incinerator?

Similarly, bookshops and newsagents, once everywhere, are now sparse with a shift in focus toward specialised supplies.

The prevalence of books in charity shops highlights a concerning trend. If you are alert, you can walk out with a beautiful coffee table book or a hardback novel in perfect condition for a twentieth of the price it would have cost you four or five years ago. But what about the authors and the publishers? Where is their motive to continue producing great works?

This decline in our ability to access diverse literature emphasises Orwellian themes. Woke-ism and cancel culture further exacerbate this trend, with controversial books facing bans and historical texts undergoing modern reinterpretations.

I believe we sit on the edge of a cliff as far as "the truth" is concerned, and once we fall off it, we as a species are done for.

It isn`t easy to believe much of the news we see on TV. What were once bastions of "the truth" are repeatedly proven subject to bias and influence. Once thought to be the great educator, the internet has become a cesspit of lies and distortions. Powerful algorithms reflect and ultimately direct our viewing habits in ways Orwell`s Ministry of Truth could not imagine.

All this is before we consider the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on what we see and read. Already, altered images are appearing, as are fake voices and videos that will improve in quality over a short time to the extent that we will be unable to distinguish fake from reality.

Where do we go then? Weren`t we all taught to look to history to reveal the future? But how can you do that if the history books are all gone or changed by someone`s sleight of hand?

Post Edited (Thu 14 Mar 12:18)
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 Re: Where is truth to be found?
Topic Originator: Parboiled  
Date:   Thu 14 Mar 13:24

“ I hadn’t been to the library for four or maybe five years”

Those few words say a lot. Library footfall has been in decline for years and many have reduced hours or closed. Are people giving up on books or just accessing them on Kindle etc?

It’s a couple of decades since I went into even my local one, I recall the big one in Dunfermline used to have queues to stamp books in and out even on weekdays.

As for charity shops, I used to enjoy browsing the shelves of books and rarely left empty handed, but not so many available now.

Times have moved on so much. I was an avid reader as a kid and in my teens. So much other stuff at your fingertips now it’s bewildering.

As for the future, Lord knows!

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 Re: Where is truth to be found?
Topic Originator: Buspasspar  
Date:   Thu 14 Mar 14:03

I am a kindle reader Oz and would find it hard to go back to a conventional book

I am sad to admit that although I read a lot I have never been near a library for many years

I also took great delight in scouring the charity shop book shelfs .. But I have not done that for quite some time

I still have a collection of books in the house that I like but in the past couple of years I have taken 9 full boxes to Charity shops .. They are not so keen on them now and some would only take 1 box at a time

I noticed the world of books van outside the Cancer research a few times .. they buy the donated books from them by the kilo and sell them on their website

As for the future .. I`m kinda glad I wont be around to see the worst of it

Post Edited (Thu 14 Mar 14:04)
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 Re: Where is truth to be found?
Topic Originator: jake89  
Date:   Thu 14 Mar 15:16

Without dwelling on conspiracy theories too much, there is a concern that digital media is easily modified or erased. No-one can (easily) destroy a printed book or piece of physical media on my shelf, but they can delete a film from Netflix or erase parts of a book on Amazon.

I`m not overly concerned about that tbh but I am concerned about media influence in the UK and declining educational standards. The biggest enemy of a dodgy government is an educated and well informed public.
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 Re: Where is truth to be found?
Topic Originator: OzPar  
Date:   Thu 14 Mar 21:34

That was my point, Jake. Digital media can easily be manipulated—and it is! That is why books are so important. New technologies may make it easier to read, but what if the material you are reading is being changed by third parties to suit their purposes? Are we deliberately being dumbed down and manipulated? I think we know the answer to that.

Another book often compared to 1984 is Aldous Huxley`s Brave New World: "One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them."

Huxley depicted a society controlled through pleasure, consumerism, and genetic engineering. So far, he is about half-right. It could be argued that Orwell missed the date but got most things correct.

Two or three decades ago, you might have argued the opposite, that Huxley`s predictions were more prescient. The working class, Orwell`s proles, got Huxley`s "soma" from the football, Coronation Street and a trip down the local pub.

Things are infinitely more complicated nowadays, but look around you and note how many people are glued to their phones. That`s the new soma, and, almost without complaint, we are being programmed to comply and conform with everyone else.

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 Re: Where is truth to be found?
Topic Originator: EastEndTales  
Date:   Fri 15 Mar 09:40

Two words.
Cambridge Analytica.

I`d take 99.9% of anything on Social media with the thinnest pinches of salt nowadays, but this is not new. Media has been manipulated since the dawn of time.

Ep.16 of East End Tales is out now with Steven Mill

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