We are being watched without even knowing it. Sometimes, the little green light will light up next to your computer’s camera, indicating that the camera is being used, but it is not you. Is 2018 the reality of 1984? In the novel, 1984, George Orwell describes a society: Oceania, which is ruled by a highly controlling totalitarian government, referred to as “Big Brother”. Many characteristics of today’s society support the claim that every day, society becomes more and more like the society depicted in 1984.
Famous rapper, Childish Gambino, has even stated in one of his songs, “We all Big Brother now”, referring to the lack of privacy social media and the internet has created today. It is true, technology is the main similarity between today’s society and that portrayed in 1984. Especially with the insane technological advances happening every year, 1894 and society as we know it today, are becoming more and more alike.
Smartphones heavily contribute to the similarity between today’s society and the society depicted in 1984. This can be demonstrated by the resemblance between smartphones and telescreens. “… He could be seen as well as heard [by the telescreen]. There was … no way of knowing whether you were being watched” (Orwell, George, Page 5). Orwell’s predictions have become a reality. “In 2008, the NSA was hard at work developing a ‘software implant’ that could remotely activate the first-generation iPhone’s microphone and camera without alerting the user” (Ippolito, Nina). What was once something only imaginable by a book, you can see is now becoming a harsh reality.
The government can now potentially hear and see into any smartphone user’s life, EXACTLY like the telescreen could in 1984. Just as the made-up government of Oceania could, the REAL government of the United States is now able to monitor whomever they want. Another way that the use of phones brings today’s society closer to the society depicted in 1984 is that of tracking devices wired within phones. All smartphone’s today now double as tracking devices, and in 1984, Oceania ‘Tracks” its citizens through the use of child spies, thought police, and telescreens.
Though many agree that technology takes today’s society closer to the world of Big Brother, some believe that technology is actually doing the opposite. Specifically, the use of videogames. Studies show that playing video games increases creativity, whereas in 1984, The government of Oceania worked to eliminate all forms of freethinking and would punish anyone who committed “thoughtcrime”. In this case, yes, technology takes our society away from the one depicted in 1984. Another way technology takes today’s society away from Orwell’s society is the increasingly ease of access to information. “[The Internet causes] increased access to more and better information on candidates … and government decisions” (Study: Impact of Internet on Democracy). Any one, and any age can learn about whatever they want with the touch of a finger. With this, people form their own opinions freely. This is unlike the Oceana government because they destroyed and re wrote any history that did not conform to their party’s ideals.
Technology as it is today, can easily be labeled as the main contributor to a society that shares many similar characteristics as the society depicted in Orwell’s novel: “1984”. Two of the most significant forms in which technology does this, is illustrated through the use of smartphones and social media. Factors such as these allow the government to further become involved in the daily lives of citizens. Technology continues to advance and nothing can be done regarding that fact. As a society, we shouldn’t try to get rid of or stop the unenviable technological advances, but rather learn how to work around and live with them. Society today needs to have a goal to ultimately coexist with technology and use it to the advantage of the people. The people of the United States can use their voices and self-expression make sure that this increased use of technology does not impinge on our right to privacy, unlike what could not be done in 1984. 1984 serves as an exaggerated representation of what could occur if the government was given too much power and control. By comparing the two learn how important it is to fight for the preservation of the right to privacy.