Orwell’s Predictions In 1984 Versus The World Of Today Essay Example
George Orwell’s novel “1984” is one of the most beautiful yet brutal sci-fi stories that was set in a distant future where technology defies human nature. Orwell’s most obvious prediction in the novel is about the power of technology to totally eliminate everyone’s privacy in the future. The author further suggests that the government will use this power to their advantage and control not just the movements of its citizens, but also their thoughts. The surprising fact in “1984” is that the government is able to record the nightmares of the people of Oceania. Because their every movements, thoughts, and utterances are closely monitored, “ordinary citizens live in constant fear of arrest and imprisonment for terrorist activities.” (Goodman, p. 22) Today, many of the advanced equipment of the safety and security sector of the government helps them monitor citizens- a scene that is pretty much similar to Orwell’s prediction. Surveillance technology and facial recognition system raise privacy concerns among ordinary citizens of the present society.
In “1984” Big Brother uses a telescreen to scrutinize the movements, scan the minds and record even the whisper of the people. Orwell describes the telescreen as an omniscient eye that forces every citizen to develop the instinct and the habit of not complaining against the rules of their government. (1984, Ch 1) There is no telescreen today that is as powerful as Orwell’s telescreen, but the security department of today’s government have similar apparatus that have almost similar functions. Although it can be considered as a low-end version as compared to “1984’s super advanced telescreen. One example is the high speed cameras in Boston that can detect whether a car is not insured, stolen, or not registered. This high-tech license reader scan millions of license plates each year. However, it does not only check the car or the owner’s legal history, but creates a precise record of the location of each vehicle at a given moment. (Musgrave, n.pag) This technological breakthrough arises privacy concerns among citizens for fear that some officials will use it for illegitimate purposes. While surveillance cameras are helpful in recognizing the faces of suspects in case of crime, it is also a threat to the privacy of civilians. Face recognition technology and spy cameras would increase the power of the government over its citizens. Such power can be used not just for monitoring purposes, but in some instances it would give them the increased power to blackmail, discriminate or persuade normal individuals. This system have the potential to destroy people’s privacy as police and security personnels have the power to see someoneelse’s identity papers and track them.
With the emergence of advanced surveillance technology, everyone can not be safe every time. It is a visible reality that some individuals will abuse their power to investigate on other people including their private lives. Surveillance system has the power to harm other people and make them vulnerable subjects to the government’s eye. This system equates to the state’s increased power and the people’s lesser privacy. “History has shown repeatedly that broad government surveillance powers inevitably get abused, whether by the Gestapo, the Stasi, or our own FBI, which engaged in unlawful surveillance (and blackmail) of "dangerous" people like Martin Luther King Jr.” (Richards, n.pag)
Roger Miller quotes Peter Huber’s perspective that “Orwell was totally wrong in his fundamental assumption that technology which is to say, in "1984," the telescreen would permit the triumph of the totalitarian state of Big Brother. ” (Miller, p.1) While this statement is true because we are still living in a state of democracy, the recent law enforcement surveillance technology are giving the government the power to explore the privacy of its citizens. Orwell have imagined a miserably dystopian future because of the government’s inappropriate use of technology and the citizen’s passivity towards the government’s action. The author’s prediction and the story of “1984” is a significant piece of literature. It warns the people of the future that technology is powerful and the state might use this power for their selfish interests and personal gains. Therefore, they should not be a captive of passivity and learned helplessness. They should follow the footsteps of Julia and Winston Smith- the persons who violated the rules of Big Brother in order to gain total liberty for the masses. Like Orwells’ protagonists, the people of today’s world must challenge the government’s use of technology when such technology are slowly invading their privacy and taking away their liberty. Ordinary citizens must push for a limited version of surveillance and facial recognition system before some people in the government abuse its potential. While Winston Smith failed to triumph over the totalitarian state of “1984” the people of the present society must aim for a different destiny.
Orwell, George. “1984.” n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2015. <http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks01/0100021.txt>
Miller, Roger. "Big Brother's Not Watching Author Says Orwell had `1984' Figured all Wrong." Milwaukee Journal: E9. Nov 20 1994.
Goodman, David. "Orwell's 1984: The Future is here." Insight on the News Dec 31 2001: 22-4.
Mugrave Shawn. License plate-reading devices fuel privacy debate. 9 Apr. 2013. Web. 14 Mar. 2015. <http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/04/08/big-brother-better-police-work-new -technology-automatically-runs-license-plates-everyone/1qoAoFfgp31UnXZT2CsFS K/story.html>
Richards, Neil. Surveillance State No Answer to Terror. 23 Apr. 2013. Web. 14 Mar. 2015. <http://edition.cnn.com/2013/04/23/opinion/richards-surveillance-state/index.html?ii d=article_sidebar>