Saturday, December 18, 2010

What Panem and Mark Zuckerberg Have in Common

So now proceeding a one-week hiatus from writing, I am glad to greet everyone again after a fortnight (I love that word!) High school is buzzing with anticipation for holiday break, and with that anticipation comes the hours of studying for the oh-so-wonderful exams that our teachers love to throw at us before we forget everything we've learned within one short week. But that's part of the fun of it! Now let's see, some new found developments for the day....oh, I know; when I looked down my mailbox today to discover what parcels would await me, I received a rather unexpected and actually very unwanted surprise: a twenty-something-year-old guy staring right at me with strikingly green eyes, every brown freckle palpable on his cheeks. That's right, people, TIME has chosen their Person of the Year, the "Connector", Mark Zuckerberg! And then there's the customary twenty-page article about all of the good he's done for the world in making it a less private place and all that...but one question strikes me very hard: why is he on the cover this year? Don't get me wrong-I don't have any grudges against Mark Zuckerberg. He did what so many have attempted to accomplish and from what I understand never meant to do in the first place: unite the world under one umbrella, provide one service that helped millions of people enrich their lives. But why now? I read in TIME that Facebook has collected its five-millionth user, but why was five-millionth the number? Why couldn't they wait for the one-billionth member, or ascertained him as the Person of the Year as the millionth individual forged an account?
      While you're hanging in suspense, let's get down to some serious business-some Panem business. Catching Fire follows the story of our favorite heroine, Katniss Everdeen, when she returns from the Hunger Games to a life that makes her wish she was back fighting for her life for the pleasure of the peoples of the Capitol. It turns out that the extremely controversial action of (and if you haven't read the books PLEASE don't read the following highlighted words)  suggesting to Peeta that the both of them should commit suicide at the end of the Games so that there would be no victor and the Capitol would be mocked has sparked a surge of rebellion in Panem. But the leader of Panem, President Snow, makes a deal with her: if she can convince nation that she performed such a questionable act because of her mad love for Peeta, then Snow will not punish her in any way. Fate intervenes, though, and after a show of defiance to the Capitol in District 11 and the planning of one in District 8, President Snow is ready for revenge. Soon comes a Quarter Quell, an event that transpires every 25 years since the Capitol defeated the districts and an occasion where there is always a twist thrown in to make the Games even more gruesome, and this year there is a surprise that I guarantee you will never expect.
     Yet throughout this book, I feel something that I have felt with most other fantasy series I have read-a sense of triumph whenever the districts revolt, a burst of excitement whenever I hear the word rebellion and see the peoples of an unjust government rise above the regime that oppresses them. And somehow it annoys me how there is an element of that in most great fantasy novels (except the masterpiece of the Harry Potter series, but I'll explain that in a post later in the year.) Actually, forget annoys, it downright scares the hell out of me to think that. How can we ever reach a stable world order when humans have this passionate lust for rebellion and therefore change as a whole? Think about it-every powerful nation in history that was rooted in a single ideology has been born from a revolt against a government with a strictly different ideology, and later that ideology was slayed in yet another revolt. Think about Russia-first it was under the great Romanov dynasty, then all members of the family (except one whose name became the title of one of my favorite Disney movies) were killed in the rise of Communism, and then that regime was abolished for yet another one that opposed Communist ideals. Face it-people love change, and any strict and enforced idealism around them makes them desire it even more. When you were in high school, wasn't it the case that when a strict teacher was replaced for a substitute for the day, pandemonium always occur ed among the students? This is the same concept with Mark Zuckerberg's domination of the public eye this year -did anyone see the irony that is Zuckerberg being praised for his work in a nationally acclaimed magazine the same year that a movie is released, The Social Network, that accuses him of being a desperate introvert who used someone else's idea to create his fortune and ultimately have a killer social life? I'm sure all of you wonderfully intelligent people out in the world did. So basically the reason why Zuckerberg is suddenly being so interesting this year is that there was a cultural rebellion against the public image of Zuckerberg as an innocent techno-geek with a great idea that we have come to know as the extremely prosperous company of Facebook.   
     What is the antidote, you may ask? Well, I'll give you a hint: we already have it and it was created like two thousand years ago. Yeah, you excellent people know what I'm talking about: democracy, both direct and representative. In democracy, all we have to do to change a reigning ideology is to vote differently on our ballots. There is no need to overthrow a democratic government with force because the nature of the government is to be in accordance with the people's wishes. Why do you think England has existed for so long? The integration of the power of the people into English government began with the Magna Carta and continued through the establishment of a Parliament and now is present in the Queen being only a public figure who is a benevolent reminder of England's heritage. Of course, democracy can go wrong as well-if there is the domination of only a few ideologies  in especially a representative democracy (hint-hint-wink-wink, politicians), problems can potentially occur. The real issue, though, is that some nations in this world are not governed by such a blessing. As a result of this, conflicts may rise between these states that may eventually involve some parts of the free world. 
      But Christmas is in a week, so let us give thanks that this free world includes us. 



  1. Interesting post. I honestly wouldn't have thought to connect Zuckerberg with Panem. :)
    Maybe you call it a passionate lust for rebellion, but sometimes change is necessary. Where would we be if we just did what was expected of us even though we knew it was wrong?

    As for Zuckerberg, well, I have no opinion of him. lol

  2. Thanks for commenting, Jessica!
    Good point, too! You are very right-sometimes change is necessary. But what we want to as a people watch out for is change for the sake of change. It's almost like if one bought a new pair of sneakers, then decided to get another new pair the next month because he didn't like the way the first pair looked anymore. He could have altered the original pair of sneakers so he that didn't waste money, but no, you had to buy that new pair just to obtain that feeling he gets every time he walks around on the street in new sneakers.
    That reminds me-man, I have to get a new pair of sneakers!
    Happy Holidays!


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