1984 and Orwell's Predictions.
George Orwell’s famous book 1984 was written as a political novel to warn people of the dangers of facing Communism in a totalitarian government. This book not only warned the world of potential dangers of being ruled this type of government, but it also presented some controversial new societal trends and technological advancement ideas for the future. Little did society know that Orwell’s technology predictions in this book would actually come true in the near future. Orwell was especially concerned with the technological role in these governments, allowing them to control and keep an eye on their citizens. People in the time period that this book was written had a hard time grasping what Orwell was predicting. Many of his ideas and concepts were said not to happen for thousands of years, some were even claimed impossible to be done. In actuality, as we know today, a good amount of Orwell’s predictions in the book 1984 have already became a reality. Orwell presented these ideas to warn people of what might be ahead and to be careful, but it may have created an opposite effect. His ideas may have actually had society work towards making his predictions come true.
Orwell’s book 1984 revealed how powerful technology could be, as the Party, or “Big Brother”, used its complex technology to monitor and implement fear into those it identifies as its enemies. One of the devices the Party used for this purpose was the “telescreen”. This is one of Orwell’s predictions that were almost exactly right, because we have very similar devices in our world today. These telescreens can almost directly correlate with modern televisions. Although these telescreens were used to spy on society, the shape and basic principles of this device is similar to our televisions. The telescreens used in the book 1984 always stayed on no matter where the owner of the telescreen was. Citizens could still watch the telescreens just like our televisions today, but the “Thought Police” could also see what people were doing through these screens. Most of our televisions today do not have built in cameras in them, but modern technology is certainly capable of it. Overall, Orwell nailed this technology prediction right on the head in terms of the device’s capabilities.
Orwell took this idea of “Big Brother is watching” not only into the people’s houses, but also into almost every public and private place. He predicted that these telescreens and their cameras would be placed all around the premises of the city so that the populace could be watched. This was another one of the Party’s techniques to control its citizens, and to make sure that “thoughtcrimes” were not taking place. As it turns out today we have similar devices called surveillance cameras that we use in both public and private places. These cameras can be found in the majority of businesses, buildings, and public streets throughout most of our country, and some are even placed in people’s houses. The reasons these cameras are used are similar to the reasons they were used in 1984. Cameras today are mainly used for the protection of the people, and to try to prevent crime from happening. Crime still does happen even with these cameras, but when it does the cameras can catch the criminal. In 1984 the telescreen cameras were used to watch people also, but instead of watching for crime like our cameras today do, the 1984 cameras looked for “thoughtcrimes”. These thoughtcrimes were when a person thinks something negative about the governing of the Party. The cameras were installed to prevent this just like the surveillance cameras today, but instead of being used to keep people safe, they were used to keep the Party from being overthrown. Ultimately in this book the main character, Winston Smith, gets caught writing “thoughtcrimes” in his diary and is brainwashed by the Party. Another way this prediction that Orwell made was correct is the example of our new technology today, web-cameras. These are mainly used to film videos, take pictures, or even face-chat with people today. But who is to say that the government or other people don’t have access to these cameras to watch us? We hope that they do not have this capability but with our technology today, the “Big Brother is watching” concept is certainly possible.
A societal trend that Orwell presents in this book is the use of lotteries. Lotteries all basically used in today’s world as extra income for the state to bring in. Orwell portrayed lotteries in 1984 as a method of just giving hope to the masses, with very few winners in actuality. The odds are not in the public’s favor, as most people do not ever see a return in their investment at all. In both 1984 and our world, these lotteries are just a way for the state to squeeze every last penny out of society’s pockets. Only about 45 percent of lottery revenues today are winnings that go back to the people who win despite the odds, and then when there is a winner, the state taxes them. The state will tax the winner for about 30 to 40 percent of the person’s original winnings, so that means even more money is brought in for the state. Then to even stretch it out further, the state usually pays off winnings over a 20 year period, causing the winnings to be even more diminished by inflation. Basically the lottery is meant to create another huge source of income for the state, while allowing the masses to think they are having fun or actually have a chance to win. This typically hurts middle to lower class people who work hard for every dollar. Then they are only to be enticed by the lottery to take their chances with it instead of purchasing something that would really be beneficial to them. Society today really has no way of knowing where the revenue of the lottery goes to, even if the state tells us where it’s going, there is still no definite way of knowing. Maybe our world should have taken a closer look at Orwell’s book, 1984, to become more aware of the dangers he was trying to show the world.
Our society today should start paying a little bit more attention to our history being rewritten, because similar things are happening today as were portrayed in the book 1984. Our country’s history is starting to be written to conform to modern beliefs. Just like in 1984 all connections and references to “oldthink” were being erased, rewritten, or removed from society’s grasp. Some examples in 1984 are all the newspapers are rewritten to the Party’s opinion and the Party did not allow anyone to keep history for themselves either. This causes the citizens to have a hazy memory, and allows the Party to control their thinking. By controlling the present, the Party was able to manipulate the past, and in controlling the past, the Party could justify all of its actions in the present. An example of this is when the party starts convincing its citizens that two plus two now equals five instead of what it really is, four. Our society today is certainly not as serious as the issue in 1984 was, but it definitely occurs all around us. It can be seen from the editing of old cartoons to put in politically correct words, or how history books in classrooms today are basically based on a person’s opinion. What if books started saying John Adams was the first President instead of the actual first President, George Washington? This has not happened yet of course but it is to show how this would affect the younger generations of our world. If they were taught that this is true and they pass it down to their kids, history has basically been rewritten because everyone would believe John Adams was actually the first President. Luckily our society has not come to that point yet, but it better be careful because there are some signs of this happening. Even though we have yet to attain the levels of this problem as shown in 1984, we need to be careful so it won’t happen in our world.
George Orwell, in his book 1984, definitely was right about some of the ideas and concepts he was predicting. Some of these predictions included technological advancements, societal trends, and others were warnings for society to pay attention to. It warned society about living in a totalitarian government and showed us the potential dangers if society in the future weren’t careful. Most of Orwell’s predictions turned out to be almost totally correct, even though some of the devices are not used exactly the same as they are today. People of Orwell’s generation had a hard time believing that some of these technologies would be possible, but yet they are our reality today. Today we have a hard time believing that our society could be sucked into a totalitarian government and be watched by “Big Brother”, but it’s certainly possible. Hitler and Nazi Germany were an example of people trying to attempt this type of government. Who says that it can’t happen to our society today if we are not careful? Orwell’s generation had doubts of his technology predictions and they were proved wrong, if we aren’t careful our doubts of these aspects of a totalitarian government can be proved wrong too.