Compare and contrast social control as it is described in 1984 to your own personal experiences with social control in modern society. Be sure to clearly describe where in the novel we see evidence...

Compare and contrast social control as it is described in 1984 to your own personal experiences with social control in modern society. Be sure to clearly describe where in the novel we see evidence of social control and give examples of our own experiences as they relate to the text.

Expert Answers
karaejacobi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

1984 depicts a world in which the government, symbolized by the figure of Big Brother, controls every aspect of human life. Telescreens in every home watch and listen in on citizens' private lives. The Thought Police even capture citizens for possibly thinking any rebellious thoughts. The government's ministries change history to fit their current political leanings. Although our world has not reached the level of control foretold in Orwell's novel, there are some frightening similarities.

We are subject to surveillance in public places. There are cameras to monitor activity outside of businesses and home, and though they are intended to help prevent and solve crimes, some citizens may feel uncomfortable that their everyday actions are recorded and viewed by others. After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, however, some Americans have become more accepting of surveillance, as they feel the government peering into private lives can help prevent future violence.

As technology develops in our world, there are more ways for us to record and capture both our actions and images and those of others, sometimes without their permission. This can make people feel like they have no real privacy. Phones can track our locations and the history of places we've been to and can also predict where we are or what products we might be interested in based on the history of our phone use (the same goes for internet use on laptops). 

Finally, the emergence of increasingly partisan news media could be said to mirror Orwell's ministry of truth. In the recent political climate, different political parties argue over what we once knew as "facts." The popularity of the term "fake news," for example, shows that some citizens believe only what they are told by the political party with which they already agree. 

sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A similarity between 1984 and my own experience would be the government's ability to monitor and read my email.  I'm not saying that the government actively reads every email that I type out and send, but between the NSA surveillance and what the Patriot Act at one point guaranteed, there was no guarantee that any emails sent by Americans were not read and categorized by the government.   

Another similarity is what smart phones are doing.  It's not a government thing, but instead private business.  A default setting on most cell phones is location tracking.  If turned on, Google (or whoever) knows where I go and when I go there.  Google also does a nice job of tracking which websites I go to, and which ads I click on and which purchases I make online.  All of that is used to customize what future ads and services get "randomly" sent my way by Google or Amazon or Ebay or whichever company.  In the same way, Big Brother knows what its citizens are up to 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.  In the book, it's done via video tracking.  In my life, that happens when my phone tracks where I've been. 

A major difference, however, between 1984's social control and modern society is that I am still able to express a thought and opinion of my own without fear of the "Thought Police."  I can express approval or disapproval of the government's current administration, and that right is protected in the constitution.