From the beginning to the end of Fahrenheit 451, technology rules everyday lives and free thinking is frowned upon. Society is obsessed with technology and its distractions that it brings. Despite the fact that today’s technological evolution has not yet caught up to the authors illustrations of the future technologies, there is a huge chance that present day society may indeed end up relying on technology in their everyday lives. In today’s world, everyone is stuck on their electronic devices such as huge TV screens, iPhones, electronic vehicles, and wireless earphones that distract you from real life in the present time. The novel Fahrenheit 451 predicts potential dangers these kind of technological distractions in today’s present time can do to people and society as a whole. Technological usage is at an all-time high and as a result human beings are using technology on the contrary. This type of negative technological usage is developing anti-social behaviors, lacking basic social bonds, forming compulsive obsessions, and can be detrimental in nature if used by the wrong hands for surveillance purposes.
Ray Bradbury illustrates to us the advanced technologies that are inside one’s home at the time. One of these advanced technologies are “parlor walls” that are in the house walls. These parlor walls for the most part take up a whole side of a room. This is where characters in the novel such as Mildred gets her soulless entertainment and many other forms of information. Mildred is obsessed with her technology and therefore she lacks basic social bonds with her husband Montag. This negatively affects Mildred’s personal relationship with Montag.
This type of innovative technology is damaging since it distracts Mildred from real life and its purpose. “He stared at the parlor that was dead and gray as the waters of an ocean that might teem with life if they were switched on the electronic sun. Now, said Mildred, my family is people. They tell me things; I laugh, they laugh! And the colors!” (69). In this quote, Mildred seems to be isolated from society since she perceives her other “family” as real. Her “TV Family” is depicted to be more important than her real family, but in reality the TV family is fake. Therefore, Mildred lacks basic social bonds with her husband Montag since her other “family” seems to be more important than her husband. Fahrenheit 451 predicts our current moment of technology by showing us these “parlor walls”. We may not have these parlor walls at the moment, but we as a society do communicate through walls on the internet such as social media. An example is Twitter and Instagram, these platforms use a “digital wall” where people can communicate with each other and view entertainment on demand. This can cause social bonds with others to diminish over time in the real world.
Furthermore, Characters in the novel usually walk around with “seashells” and “thimble radios” in their ears. These devices distract people wearing them with music and information being played on demand. As Montag became infuriated when trying to interact with his wife he thought to himself, “Wasn’t there an old joke about the wife who talked very much on the telephone that her husband ran out to the nearest store and telephoned her to ask what was for dinner? Well then, why didn’t he buy himself an audio seashell broadcasting station and talk to his wife late at night?” (39). This quote can be compared to today’s society as well. The situation of attempting to have a normal and decent conversation with someone wearing earphones or air pods which are wireless in today’s world. This type of behavior promotes anti social tendencies.
This illustrates a picture on how people such as Mildred are addicted to earphones, which are named “seashells” in the novel. The novel illuminates our current moment by demonstrating to us how earphones can create an isolated world. Individuals everyday use their own personal earphones to cancel out their surroundings and make it ever more private. This has made persons less social and more reserved, as you can see with Mildred and in real life. Today individuals use earbuds to listen to music or take a normal phone call. People would rather use a Bluetooth earpiece than to communicate in person.
In Addition, Electronic Surveillance is a game changer, the mechanical hound did its job perfectly when searching for its target. “Under the doorsill, a slow probing sniff, an exhalation of electric steam, the smell of blue electricity blowing under the locked door” (68). This happens when Montag is showing Mildred his book collection. The mechanical hound therefore picks up the “smell” of books as a target to find. In the text, the hound can be depicted as a symbol of a threat to society, being used in a dark manner to find individuals that are preyed upon. Lastly, this manifests the injustice use of technology in the novel. However, in our current time the mechanical hound can be seen as a symbol. It symbolizes the threat and destructive nature of technology. The hound can be distinguished as the dark side of electronic surveillance since it can find its targets and spy on them. However, Modern society now has TV shows about police and their activities that take place. Which can be compared to the mechanical hound, recording tapes of pursuits and actions of officers on their daily duty throughout their shift. Another real life example may be surveillance drones with weapons, drones can indeed be dark in nature and pose a threat to life by executing persons or illegal surveillance of individuals.
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