An question came up on the Q&A boards this morning regarding the uses of technology in Orwell's novel. I wanted to extend the debate further. What about technology did he get right? What did he get wrong? If you personally could get rid (or had to get rid) of one modern technological item, what would it be and why?
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I'm not sure that I have read 1984 as a commentary on technology before as much as I have read it as a warning about human limits, human nature and human avarice, but you bring up a really interesting question.
The first idea that came to my mind as to what technology to eliminate was the car. As much as the automobile is helpful, it has extended our workdays (because we are able to commute so far) and it has eliminated certain former realities in our communities. If we had to take trains everywhere and had no access to private conveyance, the world might be better.
Then again, even though I bike to work and live a very "local" life, I kind of (strongly) dislike the compromises that public transit entails.
It's kind of scary how close Orwell came to getting technology right in his book. Not that we have two way telescreens (that we know of), but we do have televisions everywhere. We are constantly being watched, or at least we can be watched or followed if the government chose to target one of us (i.e. GPS in cellular phones, navigation systems in cars, Internet, etc.).
Even our language is being diminished to some extent. Yes, the English language is constantly growing, but there have been words or phrases that, while it is not law yet, have been somewhat removed from our society due to political correctness. Free speech is not as free as it once was.
For the United States shortages seem to be where Orwell got it wrong, there is virtually a shortage of nothing and even those natural resources which are being exhausted are still thought of and used by the general public as if there are never ending supplies. I think he also missed the mark on history no longer being concrete. While I do believe that we get diluted biased view of the world through our media venues, I don't believe that our history is constantly rewritten to fit the purposes of world powers.
The easiest piece of technology for me to dispose of forever would be my television. I don't really watch television because it's usually a bunch of trash.
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