Commenting on society through songs

After reading an article in the New York Times about how a woman’s life was destroyed with one tweet, I was inspired to write this next song. Although she only had 170 followers on Twitter, the 30-year-old’s post got shared and after an 11-hour flight, she had received tens of thousands of angry responses to her tweet, her name was trending worldwide and she lost her job.

The article also told the story about a man who whispered an inappropriate joke to a co-worker sitting next to him. A woman in the row in front of them overheard, snapped his picture and shared it on social media, with a note explaining the kind of comment he had made. Ten minutes later, he and his friend got pulled out of the room to discuss it and he was fired the next day.

When I was in junior high or high school, I read “Nineteen Eighty-Four” by George Orwell and was horrified at the prospect of living in a world like that, where Big Brother would be watching every move. In this society, citizens are under constant surveillance by the authorities: “Big Brother is Watching You.”

It occurred to me that although our society didn’t turn out quite that way, today’s citizens take it upon themselves to monitor each other – and punish them for things they deem inappropriate.

A thoughtless whisper becomes a worldwide trend
We’ve gone too far, we can’t go back again
Everyone’s a witness with a camera in hand
Gathering evidence against their fellow man

The chorus references “Nineteen-Eighty-Four” and a verse references the two stories in the article.

What was once a passing thought now lives on and travels far
Once it escapes into cyberspace, hatred attacks and leaves its scar
What was once a private life can unravel with a few words
Global venom quickly spreads, poisoning the universe

The song ends with:

Little brother’s always watching
Like paparazzi for the masses
Lying broken on the sidewalk
Is a pair of rose-colored glasses.

The broken pair of rose-colored glasses, refers to being disillusioned about how our society is going.

(“Thoughtless Whisper” was featured in the 2016 The Blue Guitar magazine.)

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