- Publisher: Simon & Schuster
- Publication date: 01/10/2012
- ISBN: 9781451673319
- Pages: 159
- Author: Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury was originally published in 1953, but it speaks volumes to the world today. I originally read this book decades ago, and if you have not read it lately, or have never read it, you really MUST do so. It is really amazing how prescient Bradbury was with this book. There is the obvious connection with book burning in Fahrenheit 451 to the removal of books from school and public libraries. Bradbury carries it to its logical extreme of banning all books and burning any that are found (and sometimes the owners as well). He also, correctly, speaks of how most people abandoned books before they were banned. People stopped reading. People stopped looking for content with depth and moved over to fluff and distraction.
That is another, perhaps even more poignant aspect of the story. On the surface, people are ‘happy’ and distracted. They love their ‘family’ that comes into their homes over their wall sized TV screens and laughs and argues and screams. Underneath, there is the underlying despair that shows in increasing suicides and ‘accidents’ and general lack of caring for anything. In the book, it may be giant wall-sized screens that fill your home with distraction. For us it may be more insidious with personal handheld screens that go with us everywhere and keep us from any sort of connection anywhere.
Depth of content, depth of thinking is important to a society. We are allowing distractions to replace thinking in the world today. In 1953, it was probably inane television that worried Bradbury. Today, it is inane television, the next CGI space opera or superhero distraction, the meaningless thriller/slasher movie, the cat video on your small screen, the thoughtless conspiracy theories spun by who knows who that sink into our eyes and ears as we walk around with ‘seashells’ in our ears, our faces tilted down to the little screens in our hands, ignoring the people around us, ignoring nature, replacing the real world with the imagined distractions. There is nothing wrong with an occasional distraction, but sometimes you have to stop and look and think or you may lose your ability to do so.
“We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?” — Ray Bradbury
What have you read, or watched or listened to lately that really made you stop and think, really bothered you? If you haven’t read it recently, I’d recommend Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.