What are some examples of technology dehumanizing the society in the novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury?

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First published in 1951, Bradbury takes the reader into a futuristic world that seems to have come to life in the 2000s. Technology such as the parlor walls, the seashell radios, and the "snake" machine all exist today in some way, shape, or form. These advancements Bradbury writes about were...

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First published in 1951, Bradbury takes the reader into a futuristic world that seems to have come to life in the 2000s. Technology such as the parlor walls, the seashell radios, and the "snake" machine all exist today in some way, shape, or form. These advancements Bradbury writes about were created to dehumanize his dystopian world, and it seems the same could be said for humanity today.

Mildred, Montag's wife, is the epitome of a dehumanized person. She partakes in everything technology and never has a real conversation with her husband. She is consumed by the technology around her and doesn't show loving or empathetic feelings towards anyone except the people on TV.

For example, Mildred is constantly wearing her seashell radios aka her wireless earbuds, especially when she sleeps. Montag tries to have various conversations with her, but when she feels done, she slides them back into her ears and slides back into la la land. These devices detach people from others and the world they are living in.

The same is true of the parlor walls. These large, flat-screen TVs are all the rage. There is even a program where you can have an interactive role in the dialogue. Mildred cares more about being a part of the TV "family" than she does her own. The parlor walls draw people away from actual people and brainwash them into thinking the programs are more real than reality.

Lastly, let's explore the "snake" machine that pumps a person's stomach. This contraption is the ultimate example of dehumanization. Mildred overdoses on sleep medication, and Montag frantically calls the medics to save her life. They send over two random men to pump her stomach. Mildred wakes up the next day and acts as if nothing has happened. The people in this society have become desensitized to death because they can easily reverse the process. And the workers who take care of her don't actually have any emotion towards her or Montag. Their job is simply that: a job. A thing happened and it was corrected. Montag is the only person who is traumatized by the experience.

All of these examples, including the fast-driving cars, the Mechanical Hound, and more show the dehumanization of Bradbury's dystopian world. The citizens don't care about anything except for getting a new parlor wall or missing their stories. So long as they have their technology, they are complacent, docile, and conforming. They have lost what it means to be human.

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Technology dominates the futuristic society portrayed by Ray Bradbury in Fahrenheit 451, and we see many of the impacts it has on humanity throughout the novel. One of the primary examples is the role of entertainment technology, specifically the society's obsession with television. With an entire room in their home dedicated to wall-sized television screens, Montag's wife, Mildred, is constantly depicted engaging with media through this immersive entertainment technology. This works to dehumanize her and the other people who engage in such behaviors because it pulls them out of reality and essentially places them in a constructed fantasy world where they are physically and mentally surrounded by manufactured life, cutting off all connections these people have to their own lives and their interpersonal relationships. Mildred is extremely complacent and uninterested in Montag, and this is due in part to the way she interacts with this technology. 

Another example of technology dehumanizing society is medical technology, specifically the machines we see used when Mildred overdoses on sleeping pills. Whether or not his wife's overdose was intentional, the machines the medical professionals use to cleanse her body completely dehumanize her by essentially treating her like an object that needs to be cleaned out. Tubes are used to suck the poison out of her stomach, and then another machine literally drains all of the blood out her body and replaces it with fresh blood. When one of the operators says "Got to clean 'em out both ways," it is as if Mildred has been reduced to something of a machine herself, like a car that needs to be cleaned and have its oil changed (page 14). 

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In Fahrenheit 451, there are lots of examples of how technology has dehumanized society. Firstly, take a look at Mildred's overdose attempt in Part One. Mildred is treated by two operators (not doctors) who have a machine that pumps the stomach to remove the drugs. Notice how Montag describes them as "impersonal," and one of the men is even smoking a cigarette during the procedure. For these operators, treating an overdose is an everyday, common event, and Mildred is just another piece of flesh. The following quote sums up this dehumanization:

The entire operation was not unlike the digging of a trench in one's yard.

Similarly, in Part Three, Montag is pursued by the Mechanical Hound, and the chase is broadcast on live television. This transforms Montag from a human into a piece of prey, waiting to be sniffed out by the Hound. In the end, Montag makes his escape from the city, but the government sacrifices an innocent man because the public's thirst for entertainment must be quenched. His brutal execution is broadcast on the parlor walls for people like Mildred to enjoy, further proof that entertainment has a higher value than human life.

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One of the most dehumanizing forms of technology in Fahrenheit 451 is the television system. As people have to follow a script, they are cut off from actual human interaction. Mildred, Montag's wife, is consumed by the stories on the wall-to-wall circuit. She begs Montag to install a fourth wall so she can be surrounded by the television personalities she thinks of as her real family (page 20). In addition, Mildred is constantly listening to music in what are described as "thimble radios" (page 12) with her "eyes fixed to the ceiling by invisible threads of steel, immovable" (page 12). When she takes an overdose of sleeping pills, her stomach is pumped out by another dehumanizing form of technology, a machine that is described as as "black cobra" (page 14) with an "Eye" that sees into the soul of the person it is cleaning out.

In addition, the Hound is a form of dehumanizing technology. Rather than representing man's best friend, as real dogs are, it is a nasty mechanical contraption that has "green-blue neon lights...in its...eye bulbs" and a growl that sounds like "electronic sizzle" (page 25). These forms of technology dehumanize people because they make them increasingly disconnected and afraid rather than more connected and human. 

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