In his novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) (Orwell, 1949), the author used technology as one of the themes. In fact, the most prominent technology in the novel is the telescreen which was not a real but fictitious device that could be operated as both security camera as well as television. Everyone was under obligation to own the telescreen in their homes. The devices were very effective tools used by the Party for malicious purposes. For example, they were used by the states agents as a tool for spreading propaganda and monitor and control people. The state used the telescreens to access peoples heads, and in the process, it was able to manipulate or control them. The Partys leader, Big Brother, used to appear frequently on the telescreens. Furthermore, the devices were effectively used to monitor peoples actions as well as their speeches, and therefore they proved to be very efficient in completely controlling every aspect of human life.
An analysis of the society in which George Orwell described suggest they were highly infiltrated by the telescreens and consequently no member of the society could hide or escape. In fact, throughout the 1984, telescreens were efficient and effective devices for the state. The ruling Party and the state had to keep their subjects under constant surveillance so that it could eliminate any likelihood of conspiracies against the state or ruling party. However, the devices were not in favor of the main character, Winston Smith, as well as the members of the Outer Party and the Inner Party since each member, were under obligation to install telescreens in their home. Reading the whole novel, one cannot escape realizing that Winston Smith was fearful of the telescreen. Winston had a tendency to be rebellious, and it appears that this was his most outstanding trait. Rebellion made him a target of the Big Brother through states agents, Thought Police. Eventually, Winston Smith was taken by the state with the aid of the telescreen.
Although the telescreen is largely used as a fictitious device, sometimes it existed in real life. In 1984, telescreens were used as fictional devices, but improvement in technology has resulted in the development and production of sophisticated devices that match or even exceed the power of the fictitious telescreen as described by George Orwell. Some of the modern day devices that match the power of the telescreens include close circuit television (CCTV), digital cameras, smartphones, television, spy cameras, and so forth. A CCTV, Spy camera, or satellite can be used to monitor and facilitate control of people. In a typical modern day CCTV, cameras can be mounted in remote areas such as streets where violence or demonstrations are expected to occur. The CCTV cameras take photos and videos of anyone located in a monitored area and send them to a remote location where police, intelligence agents, spies, and any other interested party can monitor what is happening.
The telescreens were just as sophisticated as many of the modern day ordinary devices. For example, OBrien, one of the characters in 1984 claimed that being a member of the Inner Party, he was in a position to switch on or off his telescreen. However, even when it is in off mode, and the programs are no longer visible on the screen, the device still work as a surveillance tool. One might lock off the screen of a modern day smartphone but still, continue to record voice which can be later played back. Similarly, one can turn on the sound and video recorder of a laptop and turn off the screen or minimize the recording window. Any activities carried by anyone within the area covered by the camera and microphone can be recorded. One time, while Winston was meeting with OBrien, the telescreen had been switched off. However, their conversation was later played back to him suggesting the telescreen was still actively working as a surveillance tool even though OBrien had switched it off. Other than being used for surveillance, telescreens were also used as televisions to relay or broadcast news to the people to enhance patriotism or spread propaganda. Although these technology tools can be employed for good use in the modern times, they are also subject to abuse. With poor regulations, the modern telescreen can be used to intrude into peoples privacy and mislead the public just as they were being used in Oceania.
In the Nineteen Eighty-Four (Orwell, 1949), the most conspicuous law enforcement agency is the Thought Police. The Thought Police comprised secret police who were used by the state to ensure that everyone obeys the laws and orders of the state. The work of the secret police was not only to investigate thoughtcrime but also to punish them. Thoughtcrime was illegal in Oceania. In the novel, thoughtcrime involved crimes committed by people who advance personal as well as political ideologies that were not in line with the stand of the Party. Such people included rebellious characters like Winston Smith. Thought Police, also known as Thinkpol, made use of a combination of criminal psychology as well as remotely controlled devices that were used to track every citizens move. The devices comprised microphones, telescreens, and also informers. They were used for searching, finding, monitoring, and arresting any citizens who were rebellious or who were involved in thought crime such as those who advanced ideologies that threatened the status quo of the Party, the state, and the Big Brother. In the novel, OBrien is an agent of the Thought Police who deceived Winston Smith that he was also a member of the rebellious group, the Brotherhood. Using the telescreen, OBrien recorded his conversation with Winston Smith that became the basis of arresting Winston Smith and his girlfriend, Julia. Members of the Party were expected to be loyal to the party. Each member of the Party was armed with a telescreen in their residences where the Thought Police monitored not only the audio but also the visual behavior of the members. Through the telescreens, they could listen to rebellious opinions or divergent ideas and also spied for visible characteristics of people under tension or anxiety such as words that people speak during sleep. Thought Police were also expected to monitor the movements of intelligent people and eliminate them from the society even if they were loyal to the Party as well as the Big Brother. For example, despite his loyalty to the Party and the Big Brother, Syme was eventually killed. Thinkpol, however, were not interested in proles, the ordinary citizens. However, agents of Thinkpol could mingle with the proles so that they could spread rumors and propaganda with the aim of identifying proles who were intelligent or who were capable of coming up with independent minds and who could organize a rebellion against the state or the regime of the Big Brother.
Media played a great role in the novel. It was used to spread propaganda. The media was also tasked with the responsibility of popularizing a controlled language, Newspeak. Newspeak was used to influence and also limit thoughts by minimizing the degree with which one can express himself or herself using the English language for socialism known as Ingsoc. The regime believed that if people have expanded language, their ability to think also expand and they could end up threatening the state and the Party. A narrowed public thought was preferred by the government. Newspeak was used as an effective tool for mind control through the use of language. In the novel, the media is portrayed as a powerful tool that was controlled and effectively employed by the Party to advance Newspeak as well as any other language trickery to not only spread propaganda but also to brainwash the public. The media was a powerful tool to manipulate the thoughts and the language because it was not only widely accessible but also because the public had a lot of trust in it. The telescreens broadcasted propaganda and news throughout the day, and the citizens listened to the news and propaganda intently and even cheer at the news when they were good and enraged when they were bad. In the novel, the characters have been portrayed as slaves of the media. The Party had no interest in telling the truth. The Party masked the truth, and the media goes ahead to manipulate the language in such a way that the people were presented with a distorted reality. The party made use of the political language that was meant to make lies sound as if they wee truthful and bad acts like murder as respectable. In the novel, the lies are quite obvious, but the public took them as truth. In Oceania, history was to be distorted or falsified by correcting bad things and amplifying good things even when records suggest otherwise. The Party often used media to advance the lies pertaining the Ministry of Peace, Truth, Plenty, and Love. The ministries naming contrasted with what they actually represent in reality. For example, while Ministry of Truth was expected to be advocating for truth, honesty, and integrity, it was focused on the falsification of the Partys records. Although the Ministry of Peace was supposed to be preaching peace, it was dealing with warfare. Ministry of Love was expected to be encouraging people to love each other but was tasked with questioning and torture of the suspected criminals. Instead of talking about the abundance of resources, Ministry of Plenty was concerned with falsification of the economic figures to lie to the people that the economy was doing well even when there was an obvious shortage of commodities after the war.
In Winstons world, the relationship between neighbors and coworkers was full of suspicion. Everyone was suspicious of another neighbor or coworker because you cannot know with certainty if one was an agent of the Thought Police or member of the Inner Party or Outer Party. However, family relations were close knit, and people keep their secrecy within families lest an outsider gets wind of the divergent views and threaten lives of family members. All these relationships were driven by fear of the totalitarian regime.
The totalitarian regime headed by the Big Brother did not want people to know the truth because they could have easily staged a revolt against the regime such as when there was a shortage of commodities or food. The media was effectively and efficiently used to mask the truth. For example, although Oceania was in a state of war, the media was used to confuse the people from understanding the negative side of the war. The media was expert in using a language that convinced the people that all was well even when the situation on the ground was different. In the novel, there is no admission of defeat, but there are reported cases of enemy capture or defeated enemies. Although many people accepted the lies, a few, like Winston Smith were perplexed at the way people were being deceived. However, Winston also played a key role in fabricating lies. As a state agent in the Ministry of Truth, Winston was concerned with modification of news and other documents that portray the Party in a bad image. Winston was tasked with updating the past so that history looked good. Winston modified all historical records which contained bad news or information about the Party. After falsification, the original documents were destroyed. The regime was also understood that there is a strong link between history and language and consequently, the best way to destroy history was to destroy the language. That is why the development of the new language was meant to create a language barrier so that people could forget history altogether.
Although the setting of the novel was around 1949, there are many similarities in what Orwell wrote in his novel with what is currently...
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