Are there similarities between the society in Fahrenheit 451 and today's world?

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Some similarities between the society of Fahrenheit 451 and our world today are that technology is more advanced and prevalent, and that people are less inclined to read substantial books. In Fahrenheit 451, reading is criminalized, while articles online in our present society have become shorter to accommodate shorter attention spans.

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It's been said that dystopian authors are prophets. This sentiment rings true for someone like Ray Bradbury. Publishing Fahrenheit 451 in the 50s, Bradbury spoke to a future he'd never see and made a lot of accurate connections to our current world.

For example, the technology we see in the novel directly connects to our world today. Seashell earbuds are wireless earbuds, the parlor walls are flat-screen SMART TVs, and the doorbells and security systems in each person's home reflect systems you can purchase today. What's truly remarkable about Bradbury's work is that the only technological advance of his time he could speak to was the newly invented black and white TV!

Another aspect of the novel that connects to our society is reading. In a conversation with Montag, Beatty reveals that people chose to forgo reading. Debates were happening, critics were worse than ever, and the solution became condensing main ideas and news into shorter and shorter articles and segments. He also mentions the rise of comic panels. We see this today with Twitter having a 280 character count and the creation of memes. We've seen the fall of newspapers and magazines. Additionally, there is a growing number of children who aren't reading like past generations. It seems Bradbury made a connection between the rise of TV culture and the negation of intellect.

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There are some similarities between the society of Fahrenheit 451 and our society. Firstly, both societies have a deep interest in entertainment. In the novel, this is shown primarily through the parlor walls and driving fast in the beetle. While we don't have quite the same forms of entertainment in our society, the internet and its various mediums (like computers, tablets, and other devices) mean that immersive instant entertainment is constantly on hand.

Secondly, our society also treats outsiders in a similar manner to the way that Clarisse is treated. We, too, treat outsiders with suspicion and use surveillance to ensure that they do not break the law. Whether it is recently-arrived refugees or immigrants, or those suspected of committing a crime, our society scrutinizes those who do not share our norms and values, just like the society in Fahrenheit 451 scrutinizes the McClellans.

By creating similarities between his characters' world and our own, Bradbury presents the reader with a stark message: that the thirst for entertainment can lead to censorship and oppression if it is not closely monitored.

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There are similarities in this novel to all societies, as part of what Bradbury writes about is human nature: the need to feel secure, the tendency not to question or critically think.  The US tends to swing on a pendulum over time between a society that is quite free to one that, in a limited way, more closely resembles the society in the novel.  I think the main similarity I can see is the social pressure not to question our wars, or to criticize government decisions.

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I think it is very similar, too, the way that Mildred is in the book compared to people today.  Remember when she wants to surround herself with her tv screens so she can be surrounded by the characters she has come to know and love?  She considers them to be like real people, and as such she has no real need for significant human interaction.  Think about how people today are always surrounded by screens, from televisions to video games to cell phones and MP3 players.  Mildred buys into the message put out by her television screens without question.  How many of us do the same thing?

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There are many similarities between the society in the book, "Fahrenheit 451" and today's world.  In the first part, Clarisse tells Montag says everyone wants to go so fast.  She tells him that billboards are 200 feet long because cars go by so fast, that the extra length is needed so people can read the billboards.  Our society likes speed, too.  When Capt. Beatty, at Montag's house, talks to him about their society, he says that people wanted increasingly shorter bits of information, so books were condensed and became bland.  Our world loves the "sound bite"; the quick video of a news item.  Beatty also talks about political correctness and how that made writers and publishers take out anything deemed offensive to any group.  Being "PC" is very important in our world today.  "Merry Christmas" has become "Happy Holidays" for that reason.  The schools in the book's society concentrate more on sports than on education, we're told.  Many schools now do the same.  Beatty tells Montag that people want to be entertained and they want it immediately. We pay people who entertain us huge sums of money while those who protect us and teach us are on the lower rungs of the pay scales.  We want faster and faster forms of communication in our world - the faster, the better.  Also - far too few people read books anymore. Bradbury said to destroy a culture, get people to stop reading books. I see that happening. 

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How is the world of Fahrenheit 451 similar to the world today?

There are many similarities in the book between the society of the book's time and the society of our time.  Clarisse tells Guy, early in the first part, about how everyone wants to go faster.  She says people drive faster, the live life faster.  Today, people want everything more quickly.  We want instant answers to problems, we want instant access to information.  Later in the story, Beatty explains to Guy how their society came to be the way it is. He explains how, in order to avoid offending any group of people, literature and movies became bland.  When they became bland, they became boring.  Political correctness is all around us today.  We change the labels we use to describe people in order to avoid being offensive, but we still give them labels.  Beatty does the same thing.  Beatty says that schools start taking students at increasingly younger ages. Once, in our society, kindergarten was optional, now, in some places, public schools have pre-school classes.  Beatty explains the emphasis on sports and fun in their society. Sports are extremely important in our society, sometimes taking precedence over education.  Beatty says that people in their society live for having fun and there is a great deal of emphasis in our society on having a good time. Teachers are compelled to make classes more "interesting and lively" to satisfy today's learner.  In the society of the book, people aren't allowed to read for pleasure and far too many people in our society don't read for pleasure.  Give students an assignment to read a book and many will go to the Internet to look up information about the book in order to avoid actually reading it.  The question to ask is, if this trend continues, what will our society be like in fifty years?

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Are the people in Fahrenheit 451 observant? Do you think this is similar to today?

I think that your question asks if people today are similar to those in Fahrenheit 451?  In some ways they are, for example, Mildred's obsession with the television which has been transformed into a wall size unit that allows the viewer to feel like he is part of the television program can be linked to shows that we have today where the viewer is actively involved in the outcome of the show, like American Idol or any other shows where the audience seems to determine the outcome or the winner.

Also, we are getting bigger and bigger screens, as they get flatter, they appear to be part of the wall, so it is not a stretch of the imagination to think that one day they may be wall size.

"By portraying many characters as passive figures who never even wonder about their lot in life, Fahrenheit 451 seems to imply that apathy is a very important element in the decline of Montag's society. Millie is content to receive whatever "entertainment" that comes from her television, unable to distinguish between programs that are numbing in their sameness."

Mildred is so addicted to the "family" as she calls the actors who appear on her giant wall screens, that they are more important to her than her husband.  She is totally immersed in the fake world of television while ignoring everything around her.  All she is concerned with is getting the fourth wall to complete her television world, like a giant fish bowl where she can swim in the middle and interact with the players.

The other constant distraction that Mildred has is the Seashell radio in her ear.  This is similar to the Blue tooth that people walk around wearing and if you don't see it, you think that they are talking to themselves.

So yes, we have technological devices that separate us from each other and from sources of knowledge, such as books.  But our technology also offers greater opportunity for learning.  The Internet has opened a whole world of information that is available, what Fahrenheit 451 focuses on is that people chose to not access books or knowledge but chose simple mindless entertainment instead, like watching TV or playing video games.

The society that has developed in the book emerged after people chose to stop going to school, stop learning, stop having meaningful conversations, meaningful relationships and disengaging from every aspect of intellectual pursuits.

I don't think that our society has gotten this far, I and I don't think that it ever will.

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Do you think the society we live in now is any similar to the society in Fahrenheit 451?

I find the seashell radio quite close to today's iPod, or, in my time, the Sony Walkman.  Bradbury also introduces robot bank tellers that work all night, which we see today as ATMs.  Another one that may be a stretch is the "fun park" in the novel, where kids go to smash and destroy things.  I see this as drawing parallels to today's video games.  The hound might be a ways off, but there are plenty of methods used today to track wanted criminals.

We are seeing a gradual shift to this type of society, however, as previous posters have mentioned.

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Do you think the society we live in now is any similar to the society in Fahrenheit 451?

Every time I read this book I see something new that makes it relevant to whatever current event is on the nightly news. As a culture we are more and more desensitized to violence--both national and personal. We fill our time with mindless pursuits and decline opportunities to sit and talk and think. Bradbury never could have predicted the internet, and yet how many Americans find friends through networking sites like Facebook?

Clarisse's observations about school also seem particularly relevant now that many school districts pressure teachers to "teach to the test" in order that the district gain esteem/money. Expectations seem to be shallower and shallower, not because teachers are less passionate, but because the standardized test has become the most important thing.

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Do you think the society we live in now is any similar to the society in Fahrenheit 451?

I see some disturbing similarities in the relationship between people and the entertainment media: the wall-size TV screens that broadcast programs that become more real to many than real life itself and the isolating effect of getting lost in such technology. Human communication and relationships suffer as a result. Going outside and taking a walk becomes abnormal social behavior in the novel. Much is written and discussed about how technology has opened communication between people, but I wonder sometimes how much we are cut off from others in real terms. Imagine, for example, a family of four at home in the evening with each person in a separate room watching a separate TV set and/or logging on to a separate computer. Not good.

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Do you think the society we live in now is any similar to the society in Fahrenheit 451?

There are lots of governments which think they know better than its people what they should do, thus taking away the "choice" of the people and putting the power in the government's hands.  In this situation, the government is much like the parent and the people are the children incapable of deciding for themselves due to inexperience or lack of resources.

For instance, the healthcare reform in the US right now might be a perfect example.  People who are against the Obamacare plan are angered by the idea that the government wants bigger control or sole control over the types of coverage people get and when they get it.   In this case, Mr. Obama is seen as the government/parent making the decisions for the children/Americans who can't make the decision on their own. 

The example is symbolic since in the book the choice to read and think about controversial issues is on the line, but the idea of the freedom of choice is there nonetheless.

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Do you think the society we live in now is any similar to the society in Fahrenheit 451?

What makes Bradbury such a great writer is his ability to link his works with the modern setting.  The idea of "punishing" individual pursuits of excellence might not necessarily be as dramatized as it is in the book, but we see trends of it.  In a media dominated world where individuals are "spun" the truth, the control of information is evident.  In a world where individual apathy combined with fear is present, the consolidation of power into the hands of the few is present.  In a setting where the power structure appreciates it when individuals don't question authority, the apparatus of control is evident.  Indeed, these scenarios are present in our world and we, like Montag, must decide who we are and in what we believe.  Book burning might not be as overt as what we see in the novel, but the idea of censorship and control of information is an end that is always present in authority structures, and one to which we, as individuals, must commit ourselves to fighting at every step.  Throughout his writing, Bradbury is a staunch advocate of individual freedom being present in as much of a pure capacity as possible and to the extent that this is demonstrated in the book, it is a call that still can be appreciated today.

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