Albert Einstein once said, "It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity."1984, written by George Orwell, explores the depths of a dystopian society in which citizens of Oceania are controlled by its government, the Party. The Party observes all aspects of the society by having telescreens in every room and thought police who catch the people of Oceania who are disloyal to the Party. Orwell's 1984 uses the concept of technology to drive the government's' ability to control its citizens. Technology provides citizens with no true power, selectively removes untrue and unwanted information to the Party, and makes one come to the realization that technology may seem to be a hidden drawback.
One way in which technology affects the Party by brainwashing the citizens of Oceania is by all the forms of observation the Party uses, such as when, “Winston kept his back turned to the telescreen. It was safer, though, as he well knew, even a back can be revealing" (8). In Oceania, the Party watches every move anyone makes. This causes citizens to be extremely careful about how and what they say even to the point, where they think if any body movement or facial expression they (make) could seem like a rebellious action against the Party. Citizens are slaves to the Party; they cannot turn off their telescreens, they are forced to participate in the daily Physical Jerks, and they are required to engage in the Two Minute Hate against Emmanuel Goldstein, depicting him as an enemy to the Party.
Citizens do not have any power over the government whatsoever because the government feeds them everything, true or false. The things citizens own are all controlled by the Party, for instance, their food, essential (things), and their news. The government takes (good) things such as gin, names it Victory Gin, and gives it to citizens to "enjoy", but in reality, the Party attempts to cloud peoples' minds and brainwash them into thinking that what the government says is all true. Another example of brainwash by technology from the Party is shown in this quote, "[i]n the far distance a helicopter skimmed down between the roofs, hovered for an instant like a bluebottle, and darted away again with a curving flight. It was the police patrol, snooping into people's windows" (6). Even away from home, people are observed by the Party, leaving citizens with no privacy. The multifarious amounts of methods used to observe makes citizens more anxious and conscious about how they act.
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For example, in Oceania, the formation of the Junior Spies led to posterity ratting out their own parents and accusing them of disloyalty to the Party. This fear that the government (puts) upon the citizens drives the society. It keeps the people and government where they are supposed to be, either on the top or the bottom. The more ways to watch people, the more people are going to be afraid of the Party. This is how the Party controls the people: they find ways to make citizens apprehensive and use that terror to control people. Citizens of Oceania do not have any true power against the government because the Party uses its interminable power of fear to control people. (This is associated with the Ministry of Love = fear.)
Similar to the concept of control, the Party manages all information spread to Oceania, true or untrue by technology. The Party easily takes control of Oceanians when "who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past" (37). The Party always wants Big Brother's predictions to be true and accurate because it instills fear into the society of Oceania using the most basic form of technology, human hand writing.
A prime example of the Party's twist of information is when the announcer broadcasts that the chocolate rations have been raised, but according to Winston's memory the Party is still giving out less amounts of chocolate as the last time they had announced chocolate rations would rise. The Party wants people to believe that what the Party is all saying is true and being the main provider of information, it makes the Party have more power; thus, propaganda is created. Propaganda is one of the Party's main tools in controlling the citizens of Oceania as seen in this quote, "We shall squeeze you empty and then we shall fill you with ourselves" (236). Propaganda brainwashes people and makes people believe that they admire the Party. If people are content with the Party, it will result in less rebellions.
The best example of propaganda is, “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU" (5). To people of Oceania, this phrase may be comforting because someone is looking after all of Oceania at all times. It may also be easing to people because it makes people think that the current society of Oceania is made perfect by Big Brother, and if it weren't for Big Brother, their world may not have been the way it is now. In Oceania, Big Brother is a symbol of safety to protect citizens from all dangers, although the Party is the one causing all the trouble because they trick people. Essentially, the Party is brainwashing the people of Oceania using the most basic form of technology which shows that the Party is willing to go far in order to take control and gain power over people.
Technology in our society today and as well as in 1984 can be seen as a hidden disadvantage to us, especially when Winston and Julia were finally caught and the telescreen was, "behind the picture,' said the voice. 'Remain exactly where you are. Make no movement until you are ordered"" (182). This shows that in 1984 no one can trust anyone or anything, in this case technology. In our society, security cameras play the same roles as telescreens. They are placed in discreet areas in department stores and grocery stores to catch people who are stealing.
Similarly, the Party uses canny telescreens to expose people who are disloyal to the Party because heretical members of society will put envisioned thoughts of a remonstrance into the minds of Oceanians. Even a slight smirk of the mouth was deadly and could be misinterpreted as a thought of rebellion; "It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander... The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself-anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. [...] There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime..." (54). Facecrime in Oceania is very important because the Party wants to see how one acts when under pressure, again just to implant the nature of the Party's power.
In the same way of scrutinizing one's reactions, nowadays the modern world has created a newer version of "facecrime" combined with today's technology. The finest example of this would be the Xbox Kinnect and future 3D TVs. The Kinnect tracks all of a player's body movement and body language to best play the game. In the near future, 3D TVs will be able to track and collect data on where one's eyes are looking at the most while watching a TV program. This allows creators of the 3D TV and advertisers to provide a better picture and present information to one's liking. In the world of Oceania and our society, concepts of the telescreen and facecrime are still used, however in the the modern world these concepts are used for conventional purposes.
The novel 1984 by George Orwell discusses concepts of technology and how it affects the Party having ultimate control of its people and the Party examining and editing information given out to the citizens of Oceania; this makes one comprehend the power of technology and its capabilities. Technology induces the Party with its brainwash and the untrue information fed to the people of Oceania; it influences our society as well when one realizes the competence of technology. It would be important that one should be very conscientious when using technology and understand how technology influences people and the world. Therefore, in today's modern society, it is evident that technology in the wrong hands generates an amiss civilization.
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