In what way has Orwell's prophetic vision come to fruition in contemporary American society?

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brandyhwilliams's profile pic

brandyhwilliams | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

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Orwell was one of the most revered political essayists of our time. His prophetic vision came from the short novel, 1984, in which is describes the dystopia that we live today. In his novel he speaks of the state promises certain liberties like safety and security, and its citizens will  not look at the harmful ways their domestic protectors are mistreating and abusing them. This is seen most clearly in the Patriot Act, for example. As the threat of foreign terrorism loomed after 9/11, many people were fearful that another attack could manifest. During that time, the Patriot Act was contrived to removed civil liberties like privacy, under a mere threat of potential terrorism. For most people, they do not understand that all a government, local or federal, has to do is claim they believe you to be a terrorist and you will lose all constitutional rights in the moment. While some constitutional rights will be restored, the damage is already done. 

Going a step further and playing on the Social Media craze, people want to enjoy networking sites like Facebook. Facebook sells its analytics, meaning all of the things that you write, research, like, and share is sold to companies and the government. For this benefit, people receive close to nothing, but little amounts of entertainment. This is the dystopia that Orwell predicted; and it has come to pass. 

sciftw's profile pic

sciftw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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I think one way that his vision has become a reality is in the amount of privacy invasion that modern day Americans are okay with.  Maybe calling it privacy invasion is incorrect, but Americans are okay with a lot of different sources knowing a ton of information about us.  For example, the new Windows 10 has default security settings that allow it to scan/read your hard drive and emails and send that info to Microsoft who in turn reserves the right to sell it.    You can turn that off, but how many people are actually going to do that.  Facebook has been doing that kind of thing for years too.  Cell phones do similar forms of tracking.   Geo tagging and face tagging can automatically upload and share your face/name and location with any picture that you take.  Again, you can turn that off, but a lot of people don't.  Many stores like Walmart and Target work with Android and Apple apps to track which parts of the store you browsed through.  From there search engines like Google can personalize which advertisements appear on the side navigation bars on some websites.  Surveillance cameras are everywhere too.  That was the big thing in "1984."  It's big now too.  For example, London has a higher concentration of CCTV's than almost any other place on the planet. In the book, the saying was "Big Brother is watching."  While I do not believe that the American government is watching most of my moves.  I do believe that someone (business/government/etc.) is watching a lot more than I actually realize.     

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