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Common Threads In George Orwell's 1984 And Today's Society

1562 words - 6 pages

Common Threads in George Orwell's 1984 and Today's Society

"Big Brother is Watching You"(Orwell 5). This simple phrase has become the cornerstone of the conspiracy theorists dialog. George Orwell may have writing a cautionary novel with 1984, but there is little possibility that he could have foreseen how close to reality his novel would truly become.

In the past 50 years, the world has become a much more dangerous place. Along with this danger has come a call for governments to do more to protect their citizens. This Protection has changed over the years, but it has become more and more invasive in order to "protect" the populations from various "threats".

Orwell introduces the reader to a future where the government monitors every citizen through a "telescreen". These telescreens broadcast news and various government sanctioned facts at all times, but they also, "Received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper would be picked up by it"(Orwell 6). These devices can also visually monitor Winston as long as he is within its field of vision.

Obviously, in the late 1940's, no such device actually existed, but since then, governments have developed many other forms of electronic intrusion into their citizen's lives. In London today, there is a "ring of steel", which was set up to protect the citizens from terrorist acts. This ring is actually a system of cameras, which can zoom in on individual faces and recognize them from a database of millions of red-listed individuals. This is probably the closest a society has come to actually installing actual telescreens in homes. Our Constitution protects us from being spied on in our homes like the citizens of Oceania, but our homes are becoming an idea of the past. The Fourth Amendment currently protects Americans against unlawful search and seizure in their homes, but in 2003, when the majority of personal data and information can be found on the Internet, a dangerous line is being drawn between what is public and what is private. There is no explicit protection of what we do on the Internet or any data or information we view, share, or use. Of course, the FBI, CIA, NSA and HSA are not continually monitoring every citizen, but in Orwell's 1984, the Thought Police were not always watching their Telescreens either.

Orwell's eerie foresight only continues when Winston notices a Police Patrol helicopter darting from window to window, looking into people's windows. This type of surveillance in clearly illegal today, and would be noticed immediately, but in the last 50 years, satellites and unmanned drone aircraft have taken over the fictional role of the Police Patrols. Public satellites that are 10 to 15 years old currently can produce digital images with 1-meter resolution. Military satellites can supposedly produce images with 10-centimeter resolution, meaning that `Big Brother' could theoretically follow you from your house to...

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