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Novel '1984': Comparison with Today's Society

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Have you ever heard the saying dance like nobody’s watching? Well in this case someone is watching, and you may not even know it. 1984 is a novel based in a society where government security is very intrusive, this creates a oppressive environment where nobody is allowed to defy Big Brother. George Orwell’s message about privacy is that when people go unwatched they will feel safer and be more likely to trust their information with big companies. People today are safer because the government does not take precautions like in “1984”. In “1984” George Orwell illustrated the idea of how spying leads to a society where people are afraid to trust others. 

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George Orwell symbolizes the idea of how someone is always watching you through the idea of the telescreen. The telescreen is an object that the thought police use to check in on Winston and others in 1984’s society, this device is never off and is always watching, it also is used to promote the governments ideas; “The voice came from an oblong metal plaque like a dulled mirror which formed part of the right hand wall. The instrument could be dimmed but there was no way of shutting it off completely,”. This quote shows how intrusive the telescreen can be. It creates an environment where people are scared for their safety, and their privacy. The government intrudes upon one’s daily life to the point where they are scared to make decisions that would be considered normal in today’s society. This is important because without privacy one cannot be themselves.

A version of a telescreen is now in most people’s homes or pockets, it is any type of personal servant. There have been cases of Alexa secretly recording people’s conversation and sending them to places the conversers do not want. According to the New York Times, a credible news source with some left wing bias, there are wake words that get Alexa and other assistants attention and they start recording; “researchers said that they were able to hide commands in recordings of music or spoken text that went unnoticed by humans but were understood by personal assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa,”. This is connected to the telescreen because both objects do the same exact thing, they record one’s actions or words. This relates to the problem of how privacy is needed for people to trust one another.

George Orwell symbolizes the idea that your actions are always recorded through the use of the telescreen. Winston rented out a apartment that was not supposed to have a telescreen in it but when in reality it was only hidden. He was lied to and this only reinforces my point about how the only person one can trust is themselves; “It was behind the picture,” “Remain exactly where you are. Make no movement until you are ordered. Stand out in the middle of the room stand back to back. Clasp your hands behind your heads. Do not touch one another,”. This shows how people can be monitored without their knowledge. In this instance, Winston was lied to when he rented the apartment. The seller said there was no telescreen in the room while in reality it was hidden. This connects to real life when people rent a room in a hotel and they do not know if their information will be stolen or not. It is important to know whether it is safe to trust your information with a company or not because if you don’t you could end up with bad problems in the future.

Just like when Winston was trying to join the brotherhood and got caught, today’s hackers are able to do the same by using new technology. In 2018 it was found that a hacker group had access to 500 million guests information at the Marriott hotel. NBC News, a credible source with some left center bias states; “For about 327 million of the guests, it added, the information includes some combination of a name, mailing address, phone number, email address, passport number, Starwood Preferred Guest account information, date of birth, gender, arrival and departure information, reservation date, and communication preferences.” This information is linked to Orwell’s society where everything is monitored. Today’s hackers use personal information to buy things and create fake IDs, making people’s lives complicated because they have to get new information and create new credit cards. In Orwell’s world, they try to find any information that could be used against someone in order to get them in trouble. In Orwell’s society, there was a man whose own kids turned him in because he was talking in his sleep. This goes to show how important it is to find out who you can trust, It is not only smart but will positively impact the rest of your life.

George Orwell was able to show the effects on a society where spying was present. We can compare this to “1984” and today’s society through the use of technology and how it has advanced to get information of others. The telescreen in Orwell’s society is just like the personal helpers in today’s society. They are always listening, they report information back to a source, and this information can be taken at any time. George Orwell shows how giving your information to a person or company who cannot be trusted negatively impacts one’s life. This connects to our society because hackers can access one’s information through untrustworthy domains. In conclusion, a healthy society is one where there is a balance between privacy and spying. 

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