A Warning from Huxley’s Brave New World

Tom Ross
4 min readSep 17, 2023

Aldous Huxley’s prophetic novel, "Brave New World," published in 1932, continues to resonate with a haunting relevance to our present-day existence. Huxley’s vision of a future world serves as a chilling cautionary tale, particularly in an era where we biochemical algorithms (humans) are easily influenced by digital algorithms ensnaring us in a digital dystopia that many argue mirrors the essence of his literary creation.

Parallels with Huxley's World State

In the World State of Huxley's dystopian novel, individuals are conditioned from birth to accept their roles in society without question. This conditioning is achieved through technological and psychological means, much like the way our behavior is subtly shaped by social media and content algorithms. These algorithms, like the Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning in Huxley's world, meticulously craft our digital experiences to cater to our existing beliefs and biases.

Much like the citizens of the World State, who indulge in instant gratification through the use of the drug Soma, we find ourselves seeking similar pleasures through the digital realm. In our world, social media platforms, with their algorithms and notifications, have become our Soma. The "like" button, in particular, has evolved into a mechanism that stimulates our pleasure centers with a rush of dopamine. Each notification, like a dose of Soma, provides a fleeting sense of happiness, keeping us perpetually attached to our screens.

The Stockholm Syndrome of Digital Enslavement

Stockholm Syndrome, a psychological phenomenon where hostages develop positive feelings towards their captors, serves as an apt metaphor for our relationship with the digital world. However, the crucial distinction is that we have chosen to embrace this captivity voluntarily. We've grown accustomed to the algorithms that dictate our content consumption, even as they subtly manipulate our perspectives and limit our critical thinking. In exchange for convenience and instant gratification, we've surrendered our data, privacy, and, in some ways, our agency.

Huxley's words echo through time: "A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced because they love their servitude."

Awakening from the Slave New World

Escaping the clutches of this digital enslavement is a formidable task, but it is far from impossible. Consider the following strategies to regain control over your digital life:

Digital Detox: Begin by setting aside designated periods for digital detoxification. Disconnect from social media and digital devices to reconnect with the tangible world around you.

Diverse Content Consumption: Challenge the algorithms by actively seeking out diverse sources of information. Engage with opinions and perspectives that differ from your own to break free from the confines of the echo chamber.

Media Literacy: Cultivate media literacy by educating yourself and others about the algorithms and biases present in digital platforms. Awareness of how content is manipulated can empower you to make more informed decisions.

Regulation and Accountability: Advocate for stronger regulations on algorithms and data privacy. Hold tech companies accountable for their impact on society and individuals.

Mindfulness: Incorporate mindfulness practices into your daily routine. Mindful consumption can help you become more aware of your digital habits and regain control over your online life.

Huxley's "Brave New World" remains a haunting reminder of the dangers of relinquishing our autonomy to technology and algorithms. In our own "Slave New World," it is crucial to recognize these parallels and take deliberate steps to emancipate ourselves from the digital chains that bind us. By doing so, we can rediscover our individuality, rekindle critical thinking, and ultimately reclaim the cherished gift of freedom. As Huxley cautioned, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad." Yet, in our pursuit of truth and liberation from the digital dystopia, perhaps we shall find a path to genuine freedom.

Aldous Huxley 1894-1963

On November 22, 1963, Aldous Huxley, bedridden and dying, requested on a writing tablet that his wife Laura gave him a 100 microgram dose of LSD.

I had the pleasure of knowing Laura Huxley and Timothy Leary while working for Marilyn Ferguson (Author of the Aquarian Conspiracy and publisher of the Brain/Mind Bulletin) as her Media Representative in the 1990’s.