In the wake of the NSA/Snowden revelations, and the general sense of paranoia that has taken grip of the news cycle and the internet, a few pundits have assumed the roles of cultural watchdogs, taking the pulse of public taste to measure the effect of the spooky news on the hearts and minds of the people.
A number of journalists and commentators have noted that one possible side effect of the recently-revealed government snooping on personal communications has been a spike in the sales of the George Orwell classic 1984 on the mega-book-selling-site, Amazon. But, how big is the sales spike and how much of it can be attributed to Snowden’s bravery in the face of the NSA’s dubious doings? This article at Slate offers a measured interpretation:
Sales of one particular edition of George Orwell’s dystopian classic are up some 5,000 percent on Amazon.com in the past 24 hours, according to the site’s list of “movers and shakers.” The figure was as high as 7,000 earlier today.
It would be gratifying to think that millions of Americans are spontaneously flocking to the book to help them make sense of the recent revelations about the NSA’s wide-ranging digital surveillance programs. No doubt a few are.
But before you conclude that this sales spike represents some sort of national intellectual awakening, keep in mind that we’re talking percentages here.
Check out the full article at the link above and consider (re)reading the 64-year-old novel to catch up on today’s headlines.
Here is a BBC documentary that recounts Orwell’s classic novel, takes stock of our present-day spy-society and attempts to reveal the true origins of the infamous Room 101. This BBC piece even implicates itself as a possible inspiration for the novel’s Ministry of truth.