Even someone who’s never read George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel understands the idea of Big Brother – an ever-watchful collective that monitors our daily activities and behavior, passing judgement and retribution upon those who threaten it.

It’s easy to draw a comparison to any modern-day government agency like the NSA or the CIA. But I think more realistically, through the prevalence of social media, that we, the public, have become our own Thought Police.

We are Big Brother.

Media and the internet are inundated with people spouting their opinion about one thing or another. Any idiot can post a blog and drone on about whatever pointless topic strikes his fancy. (umm…yeah) And as it’s always been, calm, rational sense is by-passed for the more ridiculous or absurd; he who rants loudest garners the most attention. Sensationalism always wins over eloquence.

Don’t get me wrong. Free speech is a vital building block to our society. But lately, it seems, only as long as that speech jives with the values of those who “control” the mindset of social media. Case in point: Dinosaur and soon-to-be-ex-owner of the L.A. Clippers basketball franchise, Donald Sterling, was ostracized faster than a pro-nazi group at a gay pride parade because of his archaic racist views. This was after he was recorded – unbeknownst to him – making comments in what he thought was a private setting.

I don’t condone the opinions of that ignorant old man, but if a person can’t freely express themselves in the privacy of their own home, what is next, the privacy of our own minds? Are we bound for a Minority Report-society where we are condemned for merely thinking an opinion, no matter how repulsive, that is not harmonious with that of the public majority? Be careful what you say or how you interact with others or else they’ll whip out their iPhone and wield it like a taser-gun upon what they deem as aberrant behavior, stopping your “free” speech dead in its tracks. Be careful what you think, because there may not be anyone there to defend your right to think it (as if there ever was).

I have plenty of opinions about people, events, and ideals – some of which may not be considered socially acceptable. (I believe we all do, to some degree. Anyone who denies it is lying.) But they’re mine, and no one else’s business but my own. Unless I choose to share, such as in the case of this blog or other writings. Still, I have the right to do that, don’t I? And yet, still, I try to carefully choose what I say and how I say it, so as to stimulate – rather than offend – ideas in those who might listen. I’m also careful because you never know who might be listening, or watching, or judging.

It’s not the NSA, CIA, FBI, or any other government acronym, you should be worried about. It’s the guy on the bus, or girl at the mall, or your neighbor, or…

As Walt Kelly wrote so eloquently:

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Gordon Gravley