1984 is ever so relevant today as it was when written. A recent spike in the selling of George Orwell’s 1984 by 9,500% occurred only days after Trump’s inauguration, making people fearful of present ties to the 1940’s. This book is relevant bringing up issues of surveillance and the lack of freedoms around the world One of the ways the book conveys Oceania’s lack of freedoms is through constant surveillance by telescreens. “He took a twenty-five-cent piece out of his pocket. There too, in tiny clear lettering, the same slogans were inscribed, and on the other face of the coin the head of Big Brother.
Even from the coin the eyes pursued you. On coins, on stamps, on the covers of books, on banners, on posters, and on the wrappings of a cigarette packet?—?everywhere. Always the eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you.” When thinking of how in this dystopia, Big Brother has eyes essentially everywhere, the first thing that comes to mind as a current substitute for all the telescreens and devices shown in 1984 is smartphones. Nowadays there are very places you can go out without usage of a cellphone as if they follow you wherever you go. We in this day and age have shaped our lives around using them, but this does not solely benefit us, it adds a layer of security to our daily lives. As we turn to technology more and more, it only becomes more feasible for people to not only see what we are doing, but take control of what we see as well. The only difference between governance between phone usage today and telescreens in 1984, is that telescreens existed for totalitarian government, whereas we allow our government to monitor our phone usage.
Looking also at the rest of the world, it is relevant that there are more extreme cases of surveillance, such as North Korea. In 1984 there is a whole branch of the government devoted to it media. “The Ministry of Truth, concerned itself with news, entertainment, education, and the fine arts”. Not only that, but the Ministry of Peace does the very same thing. According to Winston, “the Ministry of Love maintains law and order”). Like our phones the Ministry of Love uses their telescreens to, “receive and transmit information simultaneously.
Anything above a low whisper could be heard and as long as you stay in the screens field of vision you could be seen”. Although this applies to surveillance in the US, current day North Korea controls its populations media almost as much as the government in Oceania does. North Korean people have no access to the internet and their media is amongst the most controlled in the world. Although a new repeal of net neutrality laws may make internet service providers able to control what we access on the internet, as of now at least, any American citizen with access to the internet has free range and free will to look at whatever they may like, but the citizens of North Korea are under more of a dictatorship so they relate more closely to how Oceania is controlled via telescreens and such. Overall 1984 sees many real ties on how modern governments use surveillance in relation to how Oceania used surveillance.