Is there Privacy?
In 1984 George Orwell describes how no matter where you go in Oceania there is
a telescreen right there watching you. Everything you do say or sometimes even think,
Big Brother will know. 1984 was written in 1949 and Orwell hinted at technology which
never even existed. Perhaps he saw it coming because of how popular the television was
becoming. There are many ideas in this novel that Orwell predicts. Some came true in
1984, some did not, but today in United States there is an issue of privacy similar to the
one that is described in 1984. Of course technology didn’t develop exactly the way
Orwell predicted it would, but he wasn’t too far off.
In Oceania, Big Brother was in control. No one knew who he was or whether he
even existed. Everyone was taught to love Big Brother without question, so no one asked.
Winston would see things written all around the city, things like “BIG BROTHER IS
WATCHING” (6). And it was true, Big Brother was always watching. He had eyes
everywhere, and those eyes were the telescreens. They were inside people’s houses, in
public places, at work, everywhere there was a blank wall. Because of this people were
hesitant to say or do things that might seem like they are against Big Brother in any way.
In one instance in the novel a woman is walking toward Winston. He sees that her hand is
hurt and she falls because of the wounded hand and Winston helps her up. But the
woman hides the pain because she knows that any sign of weakness might get her in
trouble. She knows that someone is always watching.
Early in the novel we see that Winston is annoyed by the telescreens constantly
monitoring his entire life. In the morning when woken up, by the telescreens, “Winston
sprang to attention in front of the telescreen, upon which the image of a youngish
woman, scrawny but muscular, dressed in a tunic and gym shoes, had already appeared.”
(27). This is not the way anyone wants to be woken up, but in Oceania it is for the party
to decide how it will get its “subjects” to work on time and get them in shape. At 7:15 in
the morning Winston can barely get out of bed, and has a coughing fit, from which he
can barely recover by lying on his back and taking deep breaths, after which he has to
exercise in front of the telescreen which controls his life.
Thank god that we don’t have telescreens at this day and age, or do we? It’s a
common believe in America that we, the people, are free. But now is becoming more like
Unlike the malignant state agency of Orwell's fiction, though, the new millennium
has democratized surveillance. Anyone can spy. That is particularly evident in the
plummeting price and widening availability of covert audio and video
surveillance devices. (Wood)
“The use of false identities has emerged as a cultural phenomenon.”-Writes James
Gleick in his essay “Big Brother Is Us” (362). With the dawn of the internet age it is now
very easy to share information with other people and prove who you are electronically, or
is it? It is also very simple to get your private information into the wrong.