Social media today is such a relevant component to our daily lives. Every year, new technology is introduced, causing people to be fulfilled with more excitement than awareness. The advancements in technology today have transformed the way we communicate and function in life. Even the advertisements for the new technology and social media apps appear to result in people being less cautious of what they are post or tweet on the internet. With the usage of modern technology, privacy is not always a given because we are always being tracked, viewed, and listened to. Much like the world nowadays, characters in the novel 1984 have always been watched over through various forms of technology. In 1984, George Orwell is trying to warn individuals about the hidden dangers of technology.
In today’s society, people are constantly being brainwashed into newer technology, making them more unaware of the possible effects. George Orwell warns readers about the hidden dangers of technology through the use of telescreens. The main purpose of this electronic device is for propaganda, to spy on the characters, and fully represent the government’s large abundance of power. In 1984, telescreens are used as a secretive form of technology because they are hidden in various places and are not visible to the naked eye. People slowly let technology consume them without even noticing, and this is why Orwell uses telescreens as a warning, solely because they are hidden from society. Everyday, characters like Winston, take the life changing risk of being seen having illegal interactions with Julia through a telescreen. Orwell warns readers of the telescreens when Winston says, “It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen.
The smallest thing could give you away”. Here, Winston explains how the slightest movement or thought can create danger for a person through the telescreen technology, similar to how the smallest action on social media can cause destruction to a person’s life. Winston’s context makes it obvious to readers that there is little-to-no privacy in the dystopian society. Orwell’s purpose in the hidden telescreens is to advocate to readers the dangers that humans can face when they are not careful of their actions in terms of technology. Slowly but surely, Winston unexpectedly allows the technology in 1984 to take over the life of his own. George Orwell also uses microphones to warn individuals about hidden dangers of technology. Similar to the telescreens, microphones are concealed throughout the cities in order to listen in on people’s conversations without their approval. In the novel, microphones are able to pick up a person’s voice, and the voice can be traced back to a specific person.
These are used to ensure that the members of the Party are not having different beliefs or thoughts. Orwell mentions the microphones specifically when talking about the safety of the countryside vs. the safety of London. In Book Two, Chapter II, Winston says, “There were no telescreens of course, but there was always a danger of concealed microphones by which your voice might be picked up and recognized”. Here, Winston describes the purpose and use of microphones in the novel. People are aware of the microphones, but do not necessarily know how dangerous they can be if they pick up a wrong idea or voice. In this case, microphones are being used as a surveillance tool. In the novel, people are naive to the point where they think they can get away with certain actions or conversations with the thought that nobody is ever listening. Winston describes the microphones being used as “…a danger” rather than a tool for protection of the society. Orwell proves to us the consequences of telescreens and microphones when the Thought Police captures Winston, and drags him into the dangerous world of the Party.
Both pieces of technology, microphones and telescreens, reveal to readers that technology has dangers that you can’t always see. The warnings that Orwell provides to readers are not limited to 1984’s time period because they still occur in our modern-day society today. Newer technology and its features generate excitement from buyers all over the world. With the newer forms of technology, comes hidden dangers. A lot of times these dangers are not visibly present or alarming, and people overlook every risk that is involved. A prime example of this are the new social networking apps. Many of these applications such as Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram can cause harm to you or your children and you may not know it. As children grow and learn the newer ways of the Internet, they are being exposed to a whole other world of humans from social media.
Brian Berglund from Media Planet says, “Today, the internet opens the door for trusting young people to interact with virtual strangers”(Parents, Wake Up: The Hidden Dangers of the Internet). Here, the author shares how allowing younger children and young adults to interact with these “safe” social technology apps, carries a dangerous risk of involvement with strangers. The article emphasizes elements such as cyber-bullying and sexual predators, factors that put children at a risk. The internet allows for children to come in contact with strangers, increasing the chance of cyberbullying. This can be particularly dangerous because if a child is being cyberbullied by a stranger they will become confused and scared, making it harder to share with their parents. Sexual predators also target younger people as their goal and children on social networking sites have a higher risk at being used for these predators. Unfortunately, parents today are being brainwashed into newer applications they use daily, and are becoming less conscious of the major risks they carry onto the younger generations that use them as well. Another major hidden danger that can be harmful if not monitored enough is exposure to radiation. Radiation is commonly known as the movement of energy from one body or device in waves or particles. Improvements in technology in the 20th century today consist of social media, GPS technology, and computer networks. Many of these technologies are ran by the government and are daily components of everyday life. Like the telescreen and microphone in 1984, modern technology also has its dangers and risks.
Every second of everyday, we are exposed to various forms of technology. We may not appear to feel the effects or health hazards from these devices, but they are existent. Erica Etelson from the truthout organization says,”We’re all the subjects to the biggest radiation exposure in history”(Is Modern Technology Killing Us?). Here, the author refers to how human beings are the “subjects” involved in the largest radiation hazard ever. The more we use newer forms of media today, the higher we are at risk for radiation exposure, and that is what makes it dangerous. Sadly, as soon as the new iPhone is released, people will drop everything to purchase one and use it even more than their previous device. Being an avid cell phone and wireless network user, I was shocked after reading this, and realized this truly is a hidden danger for myself and others.
Prior to reading, I had an idea of what radiation was in my head, but I never knew how harmful it can be to your health. In recent years, studies have shown how frequent cell phone use can increase the percentage chance of children developing brain cancer every year. Radiation is considered a hidden danger of technology because we cannot visibly see it, but it is being transmitted into our system every minute. Telescreens and microphones have dangers, like newer technology today does. Orwell warns readers about the dangers of technology through the use of hidden telescreens and microphones. The hidden dangers of these electronics used in 1984 correlate to the unknown dangers of technology in the modern world. When brand new technology is established, people become influenced by the glamour, and less conscious of the possible dangerous consequences. This is important for society to know and learn because as we grow and newer technology is developed, we lose awareness. It is crucial to educate ourselves on healthy technology uses. Providing evidence from the novel itself and comparing it to present day technology helps individuals understand that there is always a risk when using technology in our daily lives.
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