Do you think there is any common link between our real world and the world in 1984 by George Orwell ?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Thankfully, our world and Oceania are fairly distinct.  We don't have to deal with telescreens in the wall calling out to us, "You are the dead," when we are with the ones we love or even wish to associate with in our private lives.  Yet, I think that we can find some level of link between what Orwell feared in 1984 and the modern setting.  Orwell keenly understood that his text was constructed with what he feared most about the future.  It is with this in mind that one reality that Orwell envisioned that might find a link with our world today is the fear of an external reality controlling our lives.  In the novel, it is Big Brother.  In the modern setting, the need to keep maintain privacy in a world that is constantly driven with publicity is a form of external encroachment that would concern Orwell.  A world in which everything is public from web searches is one such example of a lack of privacy.  One's digital footprint is everywhere, and seeking to control it is a challenge.  The presence of Twitter, instagram, and facebook would be another example of how the public life is everything.  Orwell would be concerned with how private suffering is so public.  People posting pictures of themselves engaging in self- harm, or posting on facebook how they are enduring something that should be private, or Tweeting their every move is an example of how there is a lack of privacy in the way we appropriate reality.  For Orwell, there would be something disconcerting in how the external reality that encroaches on an individual's privacy is a mindset in which everything is public consumed.  Big Brother wanted to eliminate privacy in order to consolidate control.  For Orwell, the modern setting is one in which the elimination of privacy is simply to make everything public.  This would be concerning to Orwell because it eerily parallels the condition of being in Oceania.

The world in which the public has consumed the private is a result of technology advancements.  The 24 hour news cycle, the uploading and sharing of videos on YouTube, and the aforementioned example of social networking are all examples of how technology has advanced at lightning pace to transform the construction of the world and our place in it.  For Orwell, the question becomes what if this technology is placed in the wrong hands.  The answer is a distressing link to the world of Big Brother.  Companies that are able to access web browsing habits and use that information to profile their customers, agencies that are able to use what an individual has done on the web to enhance control over that individual, or even governments that are able to operate in secret as they spy on their citizens are all examples of technology helping to remove the power of the individual.  For Orwell, technology being coopted by those in the position of power to increase their control over individuals is something that would be concerning.  This potential element of modern society is a potential link to the world of Oceania, and one that would cause Orwell some concern.