George Orwell’s 1984 and TodayTV rots the senses in the head!It kills the imagination dead!It clogs and clutters up the mind!It makes a child so dull and blind.He can no longer understand a fantasy,A fairyland!His brain becomes as soft as cheese!His powers of thinking rust and freeze!
An excerpt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,By Roald Dahl, 1964
When George Orwell’s epic novel 1984 was published in 1949 it opened the public’s imagination to a future world where privacy and freedom had no meaning. The year 1984 has come and gone and we generally believe ourselves to still live in “The Land of the Free;” however, as we now move into the 21st Century changes brought about by recent advances in technology have changed the way we live forever. Although these new developments have seamed to make everyday life more enjoyable, we must be cautious of the dangers that lie behind them for it is very possible that we are in fact living in a world more similar to that of 1984 than we would like to imagine.
In 1949 when Orwell’s novel was published, television was a relatively new invention. Fewer than 10% of the United States households had a television set in them and at this time programming was limited to mainly news-oriented shows. Many people believed that television would never surpass radio as the chief means of mass communication; they could not have been more incorrect.
Presently 98% of the households in the United States have one or more televisions in them. What once was regarded as a luxury item has become a staple appliance of the American household. Gone are the days of the three channel black and white programming of the early years; that has been replaced by digital flat screen televisions connected to satellite programming capable of receiving thousands of channels from around the world. Although televisions and television programming today differ from those of the telescreens in Orwell’s 1984, we are beginning to realize that the effects of television viewing may be the same as those of the telescreens.
The telescreens in 1984 served two purposes, surveillance and mind control. Unlike the televisions of our present day, the telescreens in 1984 also served as a device constantly monitoring the citizen’s actions by means of an integrated camera and microphone in addition to broadcasting continuous p…
…her say to us “No, I’m sorry I can’t do that right now, I’m watching my show.” Americans have ceased to live their own lives and have practically become slaves to their televisions and the corporations that stand behind them.
Unlike the citizens of Oceania, we are able to make our own decisions. We can turn off our televisions; we can live our own lives and make our own experiences. We can learn about and do practically anything we want. Most of us do not take advantage of this freedom. In fifty years when my generation has become grandparents, what stories will we have to tell our grandkids? Will they really want to hear about that episode of Friends that we loved so much? Will we really have any knowledge or experiences worthwhile to tell them? Perhaps it won’t even matter. Perhaps our grandkids will be too interested in what they are watching on television to even want to listen to us. Yes we live in the “Land of the Free,” but until we really start taking advantage our freedom to the fullest and pull ourselves away from the television we are no better off than the citizens of Oceania and the telescreens that surround them as they toil on in their non-eventful lives.