I don’t know if you read the novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. It’s a dull enough book in my opinion, but it does provide interesting concepts of what the future may be like.
Written in 1931, it tells a story of a society governed by the ‘World State’ where it uses technology, social and emotional conditioning to further control the people.
Humans are born out of test-tubes, feelings of love and friendship are discouraged, society is organised into different ‘caste’ systems based on IQ and physicality. Consumerism, materialism and instant gratification are pretty much the way of this “brave new world”.
What struck me though is how these people use a drug called ‘soma’ to escape the reality of their enslavement. The drug is harmless and provides happy hallucinations and mood elevation without any side effects.
It’s funny but no matter how crappy I feel or how bad my day is, I always feel so much better after a nice cup of coffee or any caffeinated drink.
Social situations seem easier, my mind buzzes with ideas that will always be applied ‘tomorrow’ (but I never seem to get around to them).
Heck I even felt that binge-watching Breaking Bad was a productive use of my time while I was on my ‘caffeine high’. I stay up all night and again make big plans for the future that again I never seem to do.
Then out of nowhere the horrific ‘slump’ when the weight of the world and its responsibilities seems to triple. Ah but don’t worry, another latte from Smokey’s and it’s all fine and dandy again. And so the cycle continues.
Ok I know all this seems very extreme (oh definitely yes), but are we as a society depending too much on this substance? Is it slightly distorting our perception? Alcohol obviously does this along with hardline drugs like cocaine and heroine, but I just think that caffeine appears much more like the ‘soma’ in Huxley’s novel.
Ever since I became an ‘addict’ (I’ll use that term lightly) at the age of 14, it appears that I’ve lost the ability to energize myself through my own physiology. So in a way, that daily morning cup of Nescafe is like this ‘crutch’ that I need to use to get me through the day.
I’m not saying that our world is escalating itself towards Huxley’s Brave New World, I just find the similarities and making the comparisons very interesting.
So what I invite you to do is to go without any source of caffeine for at least a week and see how much of your perception on things actually changes.
By Darragh Mullins