George Orwell 1984 Relevance of Predictions Today Part 4

About George Orwell and his book 1984 a glimpse into a distopian future, relevance of the predictions today, look at the television or telescreen that controls people.


4. The main instrument of control in Oceania is the telescreen, the two-way television sets stationed in all residences and public places. Telescreens are monitored intermittently by the Thought Police, who are searching for the least sign of deviation. The sets may be turned down, but are never shut off completely.

Where We Stand Today: The cable television systems now covering much of the U.S. provide the nucleus for two-way television communication, and such a network has actually been suggested by government officials, supposedly to provide a means of getting instant citizen response to governmental actions. Present-day TV sets, if hooked into cable systems, can be used as passive receivers even when turned off.

In addition to the potential use of residential television sets for monitoring the population at home, other larger electronic systems have not only been proposed but are already being developed for installation in the near future. For example, in Tampa, Fla., a surveillance system is being developed for the police department that consists of a network of computer-controlled videotape cameras and alarms. These cameras, much like those currently in use by banks, would be placed on top of buildings and overlooking large public areas and would be connected to a central monitor at police headquarters. As explained in the surveillance system development plan: "The video-recording camera is installed overlooking a shopping-center parking lot. The camera surveillance is watched on monitors. When suspicious activity occurs, the operator can utilize the affected camera's zoom lens for a close-up."

Beyond this and other similar camera systems, a more insidious system of specific personal surveillance has been devised, allegedly for use in monitoring the movements of "suspect citizens," known criminals, and parolees. This system involves the use of "transpoders," small computer-connected electronic transmitting units attached to a person in a way that makes it impossible to take them off without alerting the control computer. In almost all cases, such secret surveillance equipment is to be deployed in the name of law enforcement, security, and crime prevention, yet who can guarantee that, once installed, it will not be used for watching the general public "Big Brother"-style?

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