Orwell’s 1984 was written in 1949. The story depicts a future where the government controls everyone’s lives through monitoring and manipulation of facts. We live in 1984 in the same way that Winston and Julia live in 1984; only I think we are the ones who act as Big Brother. We take so many selfies, and pictures of everything that I think that Facebook, and social media is a way that we monitor ourselves. In fact, we monitor ourselves so well that there is no need for Big Brother to monitor us. However, our entire lives are videotaped and have some sort of surveillance. The most common device that people have is a cell phone. Although the cell phone seems innocent enough, it has a GPS tracker system on it that allows the government to monitor and even predict one’s activities. The type of data that the government collects on us can be personally invasive and reveal information about a person that can affect a person’s freedom: “GPS data can reveal whether a person “is a weekly church goer, a heavy drinker, a regular at the gym, an unfaithful husband, an outpatient receiving medical treatment, an associate of particular individuals or political groups” (Maas and Rajagopalan).
In fact, the Justice Dept. reports that cell phone companies retain geographical data about their clients for over a year (Maas and Rajagopalan). The government tracks our purchases, our activities, habits, and locations by using techniques that are predicted in 1984. We have many of the elements of 1984 in our contemporary society such as Newspeak, and telescreens (Beale). We are quickly developing our own Newspeak in text messages and email lingo. The shortcuts and anacronyms are replacing our words even in speech. It is not uncommon to hear someone exclaim “OMG!”, “LOL!” or “FML!”. This is much like what happens when Winston is being taught about the benefits of Newspeak: “We’re destroying words—scores of them, hundreds of them, every day. We’re cutting the language down to the bone” (Orwell 65). Text lingo has cut language down to the bone by eliminating the words and using only the first letter in a word to create a common phrase. This is exactly the purpose of Newspeak, which is to get rid of superfluous words that are unnecessary. Therefore, in our daily lives, we all are losing ties to the past by using text-message speak instead of full phrases.
We have telescreens that monitor what we are doing in the endless amount of surveillance cameras that surround us (Beale). Additionally, through social media sites, the government is able to track our “likes” and “dislikes” and see what we are posting about our lives (Beale). The way that Winston and Julia ignore each other in the end of the book reminds me of the way that people can be best friends on Facebook, but then have nothing to say in real life. Facebook, or any other social media site is where it seems that we are our own worst enemies in so much as putting our private lives out in the public eye.
Propaganda exists in our lives as well, illustrated by the Snowden leaks (Beale). Our world is not so different from the Orwellian predictions in 1949. One disturbing similarity is the fact that the public is seemingly ambivalent about the invasion of privacy that goes on. The characters in 1984 that surround Winston and Julia seem to “go with the program” unquestioningly. People today seem to be ambivalent about their loss of privacy—despite knowing that the government is behaving like Big Brother.