In George Orwell’s work entitled “1984” the society is one in which everyone must be committed to ‘Big Brother’ because otherwise they will be shot in the back of the neck. The setting of this story is a fictional society known as Oceania. The Ministry of Truth keeps a watch over everyone and ultimately decides what is and what is not the truth. The society in George Orwell’s “1984” is highly controlled and every home, small as it is, has a television with a screen that remains blue unless noise is detected and then the screen turns red. All citizens are monitored day and night and it is related that it is possible for individuals to commit ‘thought crimes’ for which they are punished by hanging. Public hangings occur regularly and the people in this society find amusement in the hangings. Even the children in this society find the hangings to be entertainment.
This society is such that is doing away with many words in the vocabulary and instead of using the normal manner of speaking uses what is termed as “Newspeak” refraining from traditional ‘Oldspeak’. SYME states in the work “Has it ever occurred to you Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?” (Orwell, p.21). It is related that one man was hanged simply for wearing shoes that were different from the others.
It is additionally related that even chocolate is rationed in this society. The media informs all members of the society of the information that is pertinent in their lives reporting victories of Big Brother and the standard of living increases, whether this be true or not. This is reminiscent of today’s’ society in which the conglomerated media informs the public of the information that the ‘powers that be’ desire for them to know and leaving out other and much more important information that it is not considered desirable for the mass public to be in possession of.
It is related in George Orwell’s writing that being caught with a prostitute results in five years in a “forced labor camp. However, the unforgivable crime is promiscuity between party members. The party want to remove all pleasure from the sexual act, inside marriage and out” (p.25). Vover quotes in this work about the society “Until they become conscious they will never rebel and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious” (Orwell, p.30). There is a powerful message in George Orwell’s “1984” for today’s world in that in Orwell’s novel, man has lost the freedom and ultimately the ability to think. The statement above becomes all too relevant in a society where freedom of thought is bound up and controlled by the state and the reality is that without gaining a high level of consciousness then the people under control do not have the reason or the motivation to rebel and likewise, until there is rebellion and the experience of freedom of thought then the people who are being controlled cannot gain a high level of consciousness.
In today’s society, it is often that individuals are told either directly or indirectly how they should think about certain issues and the media, including radio, television and the music industry is pumping thought into the masses and unfortunately much of the mass of individuals are simply ingesting these messages without analyzing them. Historical analysis of information is pertinent in making sense of information that is received in the present. The media conglomerates decide what individuals in today’s society will be informed of and the rest, often what is much more important information but not as entertaining is simply avoided. The media and the government in today’s society work hand-in-hand to exert a form of control over the masses and the sad truth is that many individuals in today’s world do not understand that this is occurring and thus live in a cocoon of false security that has been spun by media pundits and the government powers. George Orwell’s “1984” seemed pretty far out at the time it was written but in truth George Orwell was a visionary understanding what modern technology could be used for in exerting control over the masses. George Orwell understood that surveillance is a tool that the government would and in the present does use to gain control over the masses in terms of their movements and activities and that is used to carefully watch what is done and said in the public society.