I recently read the book 1984 by George Orwell about a hypothetical society where the government constantly monitors and controls people’s thoughts and actions. The term “big brother” was coined in this book. One prominent theme in the book is the concept of doublethink that refers to a person’s ability to hold two contradictory beliefs at the same time and not be aware that there is any contradiction between them at all.
The book inspired me to explore examples of doublethink in our own lives and I immediately thought of our work lives. As a society, we tend to value our freedom above all else yet most of us spend 10 to 12 hours a day locked down in an office. We don’t question this dynamic and accept it as normal. Better yet, we actually believe that working more will somehow make us more “free” to pursue the things we want in life. To me, this is a classic example of doublethink.
Another example that came to mind from female perspective is the working woman whose freedom and equality we have fought so hard to get. Yet, most new moms I see returning to work seem to want nothing more than spending more time with their baby. Instead, she leaves her baby home to continue working and be an equal member of society. The money is then used to pay for a babysitter which takes up most if not all of her paycheck. The babysitter ends up spending more time with the baby than the mom can herself. All this is considered not just normal but something our moms willingly do and actually feel more liberated doing it. Is it possible that we have internalized the value of freedom to work for women so much that we don’t even see when work actually takes her freedom away from her?
I am a career-oriented woman myself and my point is not to say that workplace equality and freedom are bad things. I just want to point out instances where we may have taken these ideals so far that we don’t even realize when our everyday actions are sometimes in contradiction to the values we aspire to live from them in the first place.
What do you think? Are there other examples of doublethink that come to your mind?