Do you feel you are being watched? George Orwell predicted it in 1949 with his novel 1984, where Orwell reaches through the decades grabs us by the neck and tells us that mass surveillance in 1984 is what will become of future societies. Nineteen Eighty-Four shows the worries of the future of the time period. For example the socialist take over of Great Britain. The Great Britain Communist Party that was at the height of it’s power from 1945 to 1950. This shows that it is possible to turn into a communist dictatorship such as the USSR where people’s liberties are taken away to keep the government in power for example not allowing travel in 1984 as well as “Behind the Iron Curtain” across Eastern Europe. But the most important loss of privacy. In 1984 was the loss of privacy. Winston, the main character, was always being watched by mass surveillance. This means that he cannot act against “The Party” that will kill anyone who performs a “thought-crime”. Orwell used the telescreens for the dangers of new technology and also people being used for surveillance to control people.
In Nineteen Eighty Four the most common form of surveillance that Orwell showed was through a “telescreen”. A telescreen is like a television that hung on the walls but it watches you.”Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it; moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. It was even conceivable that the Thought Police watched everybody all the time.”this shows the fear to be yourself in your own home Through uncertainty helping enforce the ideas of double-think that he is just guessing at what the telescreen does. But the telescreen controlled the room by the “field of vision which the metal plaque commanded” this shows Winston is not in charge of his own home. This can be compared to Stalin’s Russia how the government owns his home and any person who disagrees with the government can be sent to a forced labor camp at anytime even with out committing a crime like in Nikita Khrushchev’s memoirs, a politician that worked under Stalin. “several hundred thousand honest people perished. Everyone lived in fear in those days. Everyone expected that at any moment there would be a knock on the door in the middle of the night and that knock on the door would prove fatal.” in 1984 this is what happened to thought criminals that they would disappear in the middle of the night without a trace.
Telescreens can be compared to smartphones today. because a smartphone is a microphone that transmits data to other people, it has GPS and usually two cameras. People have now developed ways of remotely accessing some phones and listening to people through the phone. Although this is not easy it is possible that one day mass surveillance could be inside everyone’s pocket. Telescreens cannot be turned off. “The voice came from an oblong metal plaque like a dulled mirror which formed part of the surface of the right hand wall. Winston turned a switch and the voice sank somewhat, though the words were still distinguishable. the instrument (the telescreen, it was called ) could be dimmed, but there was no way of shutting it off completely.” This is important because the noise from the telescreen will always be reminding you that there is another presence in your home, The oblong metal plaque creates the imagery of a gravestone to symbolize the death it causes because Winston is arrested when he is spied on by a telescreen. The dulled mirror simile compares the telescreen to a mirror that you cannot see yourself in to show the uselessness of it and makes the image of the room feel impoverish. The shows on the telescreen are the state run broadcasts. In the 1940’s all TV shows were run by the state funded BBC that could be influenced by the government. The constant background noise from the telescreens in the text reminds you and the characters that they are being watched. When setting the scene Orwell will often mention:”A tinny music trickled from the telescreens.” this also creates an impoverish image from bad music falling out of the telescreen like water that shows the music is light and quiet. This is important because the best way of stopping a crime is to prevent it; and to prevent it you use surveillance. This can be compared to current day London where there were about 422,000 CCTV cameras in 2012 and around 14 people per CCTV camera in the United Kingdom. They use this presence to threaten people into not committing crimes.The continued presence of surveillance is also shown by the posters of Big Brother that hung over every street.”The black mustachioed face gazed down from every commanding corner. There was one on the house front immediately opposite. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption said.” This quote occurs in the first chapter and introduces you to BIG BROTHER the figurehead of INSOC someone who is said to be great and was the leader of the socialist revolution that “IS WATCHING YOU” but he is non-existent like most statements the party makes. But the only thing you are sure of is that you are being watched. Also Stalin had a black mustache comparing him to Big Brother. Comparing Big Brother to Stalin shows Orwell’s point against State surveillance because Stalin is watching you and the state surveillance 1984 is real and could easily occur.
Another form of surveillance is using people. Orwell used people because people are everywhere People are used spy on and report people throughout the text this makes Winston unable to trust anyone because they could report him to the thought police, be a spy for the thought police like Mr Charrington the owner of an antique shop that sold Winston his diary and rented a room to him. When Charrington was one of the only people that Winston trusted, he arrested Winston. But the thought police was a tiny presence compared to the general population of the party members that have been brainwashed into loving big brother only the people who will never work out the true nature of the party will survive. “Parsons – He was a man of paralyzing stupidity, a mass of imbecile enthusiasms one of those complacently unquestioning, devoted drudges on whom the stability of the party depended.” Orwell in this quote shows his hate for people who blindly follow authority without question. He mentions this in his essay “Why I Write” he was a member of the Indian Imperial Police, in Burma in the thirties. “This increased my natural hatred of authority and made me for the first time fully aware of the existence of the working classes”. This is where Orwell got to see the oppression of people who didn’t want to be ruled by Britain, and the extreme poverty some people were in. This is similar to the oppression in 1984 where the inner party keeps most of the wealth and the rest of Airstrip one lives in relative poverty; but the worst off are the Proles, the working class people who are treated as animals but believe they are better off and love the party. This means that if most people are loyal to the Party or just unaware – Winston assumes that everyone would betray him. For instance Julia who pretends to be a good member of the party and Winston thinks is spying on him. When Winston sees her in the prole’s quarter “Winston was too paralyzed to move. There was no doubting any longer that the girl was spying on him. She must have followed him here , Whether she was really an agent of the thought police , of simply an amateur spy actuated by officiousness, hardly mattered. It was enough that she was watching him. He was sure that she would report him.” This show the mistrust in every one and the paranoia caused by the government to not trust anyone so Winston cannot rely on anyone or get help from anyone but the government. But it is the government that you are trying to hide from so the state will be able to know everything you have done wrong.
Orwell also explained the use of children because if the children who can be easily manipulated to love Big Brother more than their parents, they will report everything to the thought police. “For hardly a week passed in which the Times did not carry a paragraph describing how some eavesdropping little sneak had overheard some compromising remark and denounced it’s parents to the thought police.” Using hostile language in this quote shows how he cannot stand children and how they have become an extension of the thought police. this quote mentions the Times, an at the time independent London newspaper. But now it is producing propaganda to influence the people into being afraid and reminding the reader that INSOC has taken over every form of media. Orwell mentions how children have changed into this:”It was almost normal for people over thirty to be afraid of their children. “All children nowadays were horrible. What was worst of all was that by the means of such organisations as the spies they were systematically turned into ungovernable little savages.” All people over thirty would have grown up before the revolution and had a normal childhood instead of one governed by “Big Brother” and the party “systematically” did this to show the impersonal production of child spies. “They were dressed in blue shorts, grey shirts and red neckerchiefs which were the uniform of the spies.” The uniform of the spies were similar to a scouts uniform to show that the party was catering to be child friendly and control the children before they form different ideas instead of the ones given to them by the party.
George Orwell’s warning for us and the people in 1984 is that we should prevent the state surveillance from invading our privacy and out homes because when that comes we will never be able to combat the state when they know what we think. His warning was valid that everything is being watched. Not by an oppressive government. But by Google, Apple, Facebook and Telecom. They know everything about you where you live, who you call, your location, your friends and family, google can track your emails, and Apple can track your phone. Facebook keeps everything you search to give you adds. Telecom keeps every text you’ve ever sent. The only difference to now and nineteen eighty four is that the people who hold your information only care about your money because of our capitalist society.