In Fahrenheit 451, what social statement is made by the book about the individual in a technical world?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ray Bradbury saw technology as a necessary force for human progression, but he also saw it as a tool of collectivism and indoctrination. Bradbury understood that people will gravitate towards easy and thoughtless entertainment, avoiding intellectual arguments because they are irritating. The progression of the novel's future history is that the government increased its control over public media while slowly eliminating all alternate opinion and thought. It seems, therefore, that humans are wired to accept authoritarian control as long as their superficial desires are maintained.

"...the word 'intellectual,' of course, became the swear word it deserved to be. You always dread the unfamiliar. Surely you remember the boy in your own school class who was exceptionally 'bright,' did most of the reciting and answering while the others sat like so many leaden idols, hating him."
(Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, Google Books)

The official history, told by Beatty, is that society itself moved this way without any interference, but the need of government to keep control over its populace gives this idea the lie. It is easy to see that without the subtle movement of the accepted extremes -- a concept called "The Overton Window" society would flow back and forth in its acceptance of contradictory opinions. However, with government-controlled media dictating the mob mentality, that window moved farther and farther until there was no public acceptance for books at all.

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Fahrenheit 451

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