George Orwell viewed the future society as totalitarian in his novel 1984. In his society, privacy was nonexistent. Every action and every thought was watched over by Big Brother, the face of the government called Ingsoc. Telescreens and microphones were used to carry this out along with and Thought Police. The main character Winston wrote “DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER” in his diary, the thought and the action both being against the government. “The Thought Police would get him just the same. He had committed- would still have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper- the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed forever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you (pg. 19).” Thoughtcrime is a Newspeak word. Newspeak is the language that Ingsoc used. It was developed to narrow thought to the point that Thoughtcrime would be impossible.
Was George Orwell right?
Doublespeak was a term used in 1984. Doublespeak is a distortion of words to where the meaning of the word is opposite. Examples of doublespeak are most common in politics. The Secretary of Defense has erased terms such as body bag from the Vietnam Era and has replaced them with “human remain pouches”. The goverment in 1984 erased terms as well. The U.S. goverment also in order to get away with torture defined it as “pain equlivant to a serious physical injury such as organ failure, impairment of body function, or death.” Torture is only unconstitutional when it is used with interrogation. Other examples of doubelespeak in today’s society can be found at the NCTE Doublespeak Award website.
In todays society we are not concerned with totalitarianism as Orwell was but we are concerned with privacy. Our privacy is not as private as we think it is.
The Justice Department has issued subpoenas on Internet Search Engines to find out what people are searching. Google refused on the grounds of the personal information that they have and if they would give the Justice Department this information, they could ask for more personal information. Google offers accounts, Gmail, social networking, shopping lists, personalized home pages, and your account will link all of these services along with others not listed together. What you previously searched is organized into a calendar where every word you searched along with the websites you visited is stored. If the person does not have an account the information is not as neatly stored but Google will use tracking cookies. Google is watching you. What we search is usually random, whatever we are thinking that day. The government wants this information which a website has. All of that information is not private anymore.
The government is also watching you. The Pentagon has formed the Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA) was formed to protect military facilities from attack, to collect data on U.S. citizens, and to use that data to prevent sabotage, attacks, assassinations, etc. It was formed shortly after the 9/11 attacks so it was because of the terrorist scare. This agency is not widely known and its staff, which is said to be about 1,000, and budget is not public. The Pentagon with this agency has access to all the data collected, not just those on citizens related to terrorism. This means that what we do is not private. More information can be found here.
Orwell thought of a society where the government watched over our every move. Society today is not exactly like that but the government does keep track of us, even when we do nothing wrong. The internet has all of our information in databases, every word we search, every website we visit. We are living in a Modern 1984.