George Orwell's literary political masterpiece Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) paints a grim image of a dystopian future in which the totalitarian government of Oceania has full control over its citizens. Winston Smith, the protagonist, works for the government's Ministry of Truth, spreading propaganda and distorting historical records. 1984 is such a controversial and politically striking novel that it's been banned and/or legally challenged by several countries.
Although it was published 65 years ago, many of its concepts presented in 1984 have since turned into a reality for many Americans. Former NSA intelligence analyst turned whistleblower Edward Snowden made some stunning revelations regarding the way in which the government spies on its citizens. Among those revelations was a government program that allowed officials to hack into citizens' computers, turning on their webcam without their knowledge. This, of course, is strikingly similar to 1984, where nearly every public and private facility has multiple TV screens that display propaganda while simultaneously recording citizens' lives.
Unless you're hiking through the woods, you are probably being recorded. There are video surveillance cameras located in every major city, with an estimated 6,000 plus in New York City alone. Video cameras are even being used to capture license plates and create facial recognition databases. This, of course, draws a parallel to the future envisioned by Orwell.
It's not just the government who's doing the spying. Most websites collect data on its visitors in some way, shape or form. Facebook, for instance, captures users' data, including name, gender, age, birthday, location, hobbies/interest, etc., which it uses to deliver custom-tailored advertisement. Some people view this is beneficial since it promotes relevant advertisements, whereas others view it as creepy, or even an invasion of privacy.
Earlier this year, Facebook experienced a public relations nightmare when company execs admitted to manipulating users' feeds based on mood. Known as “emotional contagion,” the social media giant conducted a test on some 600,000 plus users in which it delivered either “happy” or “sad” posts to see how users would react.
The Endless War
If you've had the privilege of reading 1984, you may recall an endless war described by Orwell where allies and enemies often change from one week to the next. Because this war is never ending, it creates a constant state of fear among the citizens of Oceania. Americans today are involved in a similar conflict – the war on terror. President George W. Bush's officially declared the war on terror during a televised addressed to congress on September 20, 2001. 13 years later, the war is still going with no end in sight.
© 2014, insidious All Rights Reserved.