1984 Surveillance

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When it comes to the topic of hate and deception in 1984 by George Orwell most of us will readily agree that is a totalitarian society run by the leader known as Big Brother. They monitor and control every aspect of its people from physical to emotional. Big Brother deceives its people through the use of surveillance cameras, Newspeak, and The Thought Police. With this technology, the people fear Big Brother. Where his agreement usually ends, however, is on the question of whether a society dominated by hate and deception can survive because Oceania’s society was able to live in a society that based on hate and deception. The party has the power to change the past, present, and the future. Whereas some are convinced that the society of Oceania is corrupted because the government has the power to brainwash its citizens to conform to their standards and rules, others maintain that it’s impossible to live in such society solely for the fact that the government has destroyed all beliefs that oppose their own. Oceania has lost its opportunity of achieving a utopian society. If the government continues to control one’s mind and body, then the citizens will question their individual freedoms. My own view is that a society based on hate and deception cannot survive because surveillance can corrupt those that are being controlled while those in control become corrupt for holding so much power.

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The citizens are not conscious to be aware that Big Brother is willing do anything to maintain the power they have. People usually write down their thoughts and feelings to be able to let out their emotions, but in Oceania the citizens are not allowed to do such thing because it goes against Big Brother’s rules. Orwell responds to this when he states, “thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime IS death” (Orwell 28). Orwell’s point is that Winston has realized that he is a dead man and that it’s important for him to stay alive. He is aware that his decision to to start a diary would mean that his crime would be noticed sooner or later. For every act, there is a consequence, that is a crime in itself. Since, Oceania was built on the beliefs and ideas of Big Brother, one had no freedom of speech or freedom of thought. They had complete control over their subjects, up to the extent that they are arrested or punished with death. The party was serious about the loyalty of their citizens, meaning that all ability of originality and creativity was destroyed. The party was unbeatable which is why there was nothing the people could have done to stop them. Big Brother has always been on top of everyone else. Thoughtcrimes means to do something that goes against the ruling party. Winston did just that, to rebel against the party because he did not agree with a totalitarian society that controls his ideas and individuality. Just like Winston realized that he must make his own decisions, he also realized that he shouldn’t be following others as well. In life a person can choose to follow people’s or they can choose to make their rules as they go. Some will try to destroy the dignity that is left inside of that person just to feel superior.

With modern society shifting to this dystopian society nightmare, one must be aware of the dangers that come with it. In the article, Why ‘1984’ Is a 2017 Must-Read by Michiko Kakutani states,

“after Kellyanne Conway, an adviser to President Trump, described demonstrable falsehoods told by the White House press secretary Sean Spicer — regarding the size of inaugural crowds — as “alternative facts.” It was a phrase chillingly reminiscent, for many readers, of the Ministry of Truth’s efforts in “1984” at “reality control” (Kakutani).

Kakutani’s point is to show the parallel between Oceania’s new language and the president’s administration. With the new administration, one never knows if they are giving false information to deceive the people. It can be worrisome because the president expects a reality that he envisions. In 1984 doublethink is a new word for controlling reality. Just how Big Brother controls the reality and the truth, it’s a prime example of how doublethink is used throughout the story. He points out that the phrase “alternative facts” is something that would usually not be heard in the world of politics, but either something that Big Brother would say to its citizens as a form of lying to them. As for the party they are not lying to their citizens, but either switching around information to make it seem as if it’s the truth. To move forward, one must recognize when doublethink is being used by others or when our own selves use it as well. Doublethink can be an easy trap to fall into, especially when someone is strongly ideological. When someone is ideological it means that they want to see their ideology to dominate and succeed. Doublethink relies on the person who is doing it rather than the one who falling into the trap because they are not aware that they are doing it.

Modern society is fairly similar to George Orwell’s 1984. When first reading the novel one never stops to think that our society is leading towards an Orwellian society. In the article, We’re Living ‘1984’ Today by Lewis Beale states,

“So when Edward Snowden — now cooling his heels in Russia — revealed the extent to which the NSA is spying on Americans, collecting data on phone calls we make, it’s not as if we should have been surprised. We live in a world that George Orwell predicted in “1984.” And that realization has caused sales of the 1949, dystopian novel to spike dramatically upward recently — a 9,000% increase at one point on Amazon.com (Beale).

Beale’s point is that after the Edward Snowden revelation, there was a sudden increase in the sales of the novel. Snowden leaked information about NSA and how they have the ability to monitor internet use for their own beneficial. This caused people to worry about the direction our society was heading towards, as well as how much information they have towards a certain person. NSA has eliminated all privacy for American citizens just like Big Brother took away the privacy from their people. Looking at today’s society it’s not much different than the one Orwell predicted many years ago. Technology has advanced over the years and it’s easy to access. It’s used to promote government propaganda, news and entertainment. Our world may not be a dystopian society, but the conditions are heading towards that totalitarian society. Big Brother is the leader of Oceania and in today’s society, it exist in many different forms. In the novel, there are seen as a government and not as a single person. Hate and fear are used to manipulate the people of Oceania, it is for that, that their society is able to survive for many years. Words can limit a person’s thought and it can be easy for someone to control their mind. Power given to the government can dash basic human rights such as the freedom to express their own ideas. It is our due to speak up when one tries to take those rights away. As years go by, fear will continue to grow or fade away, but 1984 will speak upon how hate and deception will jeopardize individual freedom.

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1984 Surveillance. (2020, May 14). Retrieved February 8, 2023 , from

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