A day in the world of today:
As usual, getting up is difficult. The breakfast television is there while you are having your coffee. It is questionable whether the coffee will taste better during and after. During the breakfast television show, experts of both sexes (to be on the safe side of political and social correctness) are addressed in connection to a topic known to everyone. Correctness has also to be digested early in the morning. The presenters of the respective television channel smile so optimistically and happily, that one can’t help, but think that they have just got a pay raise or a paid vacation of over eight weeks. Everything is bliss and sunshine – the editors and the television presenters brim over with positive excitement.
This does not necessarily have to lighten the mood of the observers who are sipping their coffee in front of the TV screen.
Then, the road to work. Everything is eerily normal, but then again – just eerie. The people in the streets seem tense, stressed, sometimes aggressive. Life has changed. Once at work, the employees sometimes engage in discussions about the everyday problems. As soon as a political reference comes up, you’d better bite your tongue. You never know. Freedom of expression or not, the inside “informers” simply don’t respect freedom of expression. One would be better off keeping their thoughts and conclusions to themselves.
In the lift, there is always that one person whose face cringes in pained facial expression due to the space proximity. It’s understandable. In today’s times, physical proximity is not exactly something that triggers delight. Other people are perceived as a space-constricting factors.
On the street, people quickly look down or entirely look away when they spot another unknown face. Nowadays, a person without a mask is surely bound to present a threat, anyway. Media, Internet and newspapers put in our minds images of laughing, positive people and one wonders why they are in such a good mood. May be because these radiant faces are always a part of media content. However, there is something surreal and spooky about the exaggerated countenance of joy itself. You start wondering whether you are the only one who has worries and fears. Maybe everyone else is overjoyed, with white and shiny toothy mouths, intended for the perfect smile, showing complete and utter positivity. Woe to him who does not believe in it and who moves around in life, radiating certain degree of skepticism.
And then of course you have to change the language. The language changes just as quickly. The alternations come with the demand to keep everyone satisfied and not to offend anyone. People are so sensitive these days or they became sensitive after someone told them to be sensitive and told them to how to be offended way too often. Calling someone “a policeman” or a “policewoman” is wrong. They are “police persons”. The examples are far too many and vary, depending on your “mother tongue” which also happens to be among the forbidden expressions. Social and political correctness to the extreme is the agenda for the day. The altered language, the changed labelling of things create a new kind of communal exclusivity for those who use them. Thoughtless, non-reflective parroting has always been a human quality. This creates a corresponding protective reflex with the awareness that “I belong”, with the expectation to “please, treat me kindly and benevolently”. It is perfectly clear that nowadays you should not use words that were used freely and were non-problematic decades ago. It is striking, however, that the list of words that must not be used, keeps getting longer. Every day one either entirely avoids or does their best to tread lightly around sensitive topics. These days, the wrong choice of words is potentially more harmful for the reaction of the people around you than a banned by law action can be. When it comes to judging people, the words one has spoken outweigh what they have done. Nevertheless, we are still to be described as happy; we are only assessed by our correct words and not by the thoughts we sometimes have. There may come a time when, maybe through electronic means, our thoughts will be uncovered. Then, we will have to get used to “thinking the right thing.”
The beautiful concept of freedom. A vague illusion – everyone wants it, but few believe they really have it. We are caught in a life in which we need some sort of income to finance our existence. We have to do everything within our means to ensure this economic foundation does not disappear. There is not much freedom left. What freedom anyway? Perhaps citizens of totalitarian regimes are more content because, thanks to strict and unrelenting control, they know better where their place is and where the limits are, which they are not in any way allowed to go near. The resigned satisfaction in the cage of existence.
At times, reality feels like a science fiction movie. A horror movie would be an exaggeration, science fiction would be more accurate. Who wants to participate in a science fiction movie? George Orwell is now a kindergarten fairytale. The horrifying reality is already normality. Giving up, people have noticed the general change in the circumstances, but they dare not react or they see no chance of success of their possible reaction. Only disadvantages. You’d better keep your head down not to jeopardize your life.
Everyone knows what happens to the protestors in Hong Kong. “The Empire Strikes Back “. In contrast to the “Empire that Strikes Back” and contrary to the global repression, we have the radiant and overjoyed faces in media and especially on the TV channels that serve the purpose of providing us with relaxation and recreation. A strange contrast that is difficult to stomach.
Beautiful new world.
–by Dieter Orthner
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