In the 21st century
In the 21st century, the world is developing immensely through technology. Some of the mind-blowing advancements are atomic bombs, energy produced from nature, robots, bionic body parts and computer technology. Surprisingly many of these major events were predicted years back by authors in their novels; the issues we are facing today can be seen mentioned in dystopian novels. For example, “Neuromancer” (1984) by William Gibson depicts much about the modern internet and its negative effects like cyber warfare and “The World Set Free” (1914) by H.G Wells which predicted the atomic bomb. When talking about fiction novels coming true, it is impossible for us to forget the work of George Orwell in the book 1984 which portrays a world where privacy exists no more. Every person is under constant surveillance through telescreens which broadcast Party news, reinforces Party rules and teachings through propaganda and also scrutinizes every action of the residents of Oceania.
In the futuristic dystopian novel 1984 which is set in London, mentioned as Oceania, Orwell illustrates a nation where it’s citizens are scrutinized by the Party, the ruling power of Oceania. “There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire
was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized” (Orwell 5). The protagonist Winston Smith reveals the reader with how a totalitarian regime looks like and how the Party uses 24/7 surveillance with omnipresent microphones in order to keep their citizens obedient and destroy their sense of privacy. Since “Big Brother is watching you” (Orwell 4), the government holds the power to change the citizens’ beliefs and destroy their love and trust towards an individual. The reader learns it in the end pages of the novel, where Winston is transformed from an antagonist but a member of the Party to an indoctrinated lover of Big Brother. And the only way the Party knew Winston’s opposing thoughts was by the surveillance devices at his work which recorded every second.
The situation in 1984 can be compared to the world we live in today. Technological advancements in the 21st century facilitated us by developing the internet, GPS technology, cell phone and social media, which are also a way to keep an eye on us. Such advancements are also used in tracking down criminals to avoid crimes, but it does have a profound effect on the citizens. Through surveillance the government (NSA) records and can view any person’s internet history, likes, dislikes and texts on social media and can hear him/her through microphones in their smartphones and computers. The fact that the NSA is watching all, the citizens grow into being more self conscious and less open, as stated by Jacob Sullum, “knowing that you are being watched by armed government agents tends to put damper on things. You don’t want to offend or
call attention to yourself. People might put more thought into how they dress, lest they look like terrorist or gang members..” (What’s Wrong With Public Video Surveillance), which might lead to citizens being afraid in there own homes.
George Orwell’s novel 1984 perfectly represents the privacy issues the world is facing today. The immense growth in technology led the government to create a complex system of surveillance in which the citizens are in deep. And can get in further deep only if the technology advances and in the future the nation might not need security guards or spies, and only use microphones and cameras.