In the futuristic novel 1984, George Orwell writes about the government’s control of citizens through technology. The use of technology to control public and private behavior in 1984 and in the present and the limits that should be placed on the use of technology to avoid totalitarian excesses will be discussed in this essay.
The device that Big Brother uses to monitor and control the society is called a “telescreen”. The telescreen has an open circuit which allows people to see and hear anything that goes on where it is located. It is designed like a large, flat screen TV with a camera inside it. Telescreens are normally placed on a wall in the room where it can easily see everything.
In 1984, people did not have a choice as to whether or not they wanted their household under surveillance by the government. However now people have an option and it’s normally not under the surveillance of the government. If someone was worried about the safety of their children or family, they could install a surveillance system for their personal sound of mind. In Oceania, there was hardly any place devoid of a telescreen, some sort of surveillance technology and/or spy. The chances of not being watched are slim and “How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork” (5). In this quote, the narrator clearly states that there is no way to know if one is being watched.
Today, cameras are also used to control behavior, but the behavior is generally public behavior. Cameras in stores prevent people from shoplifting as well as security guards and other means of security. There are also cameras in banks and restaurants to encourage integrity on both sides. While the citizens of Oceania “had to live…in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every move scrutinized” (5), their paranoia resulted in the discouragement of behavior that was not particularly pleasing to the Party.