In the world of 1984, there was no Internet. But there were telescreens in each home that had to stay on constantly and they were two way - you watched them but Big Brother (yes, that was where that name came from) watched you, in turn. There was constant emotional manipulation in a daily ceremony called the Two Minute Hate, where Party members had to watch a film about the Party's enemies and scream out their hate in a period of two minutes.
Constant surveillance. Information manipulation. Sound familiar?
Now, 1984 has climbed to the top of the best seller charts once again. Yes, this has happened before, notably in the early 1980's, and again in 2013. This isn't a brand new phenomenon.
Think about our modern world for a minute. Websites and their contents can disappear or change in a minute. We ponder these questions: Are our virtual assistants, Siri and Alexa (among others) secretly listening to our conversations? Recording our questions? (The answer to this last one, incidentally, is "yes" for both Siri and Alexa.) Is there tracking software that can follow what we say on Facebook or Twitter, ready for the future use of a totalitarian leader?
There was the incident late last year where an Amazon Echo in the state of Arkansas may have been a digital witness to a murder.
What does privacy mean anymore?
Here's my post from 2009:
For all of you lucky enough to study the book "1984" in high school back in the 1960's, there are certain things in this book that stuck with you forever. The present generation would not be impressed but this book was absolutely chilling in its depiction of a world where a dictatorship totally controlled all sources of information, complete with a Ministry of Truth whose bureaucrats labored to continuously revise all written records to reflect the current Party line. To control thought, a new language called Newspeak was introduced. Words and thought were so short in Newspeak that one could spit sentences out without giving a thought to what one was actually saying.
Of course, nowadays we manipulate photos with ease via programs such as Photoshop and can manipulate electronic records with just as much ease.
And, apparently, we can buy an electronic book and download into our Kindle, and Bi...I mean, Amazon.com, can take it back for whatever reason.
When's the last time your local bookstore knocked down your door to grab back a book you legally paid for?
How ironic (not that this is exactly not my original thought) that the book they "vanished" was....1984. (Along with another Orwell classic, "Animal Farm".)
For the record:
1. This was due to a copyright infringement issue, not censorship and
2. Amazon.com duly refunded monies paid to the customers affected.
However, when they sent emails with the refund notices, some customers claimed Amazon never bothered to explain what was going on. (Disclosure: I do not own a Kindle and was not affected by this.).
But still. This gives me a very big sense of unease especially as I've been thinking about getting a Kindle. Not any more. Who would have thought of a Kindle as a two-way device quite like this? If you buy anything via Kindle, is it really yours? Can amazon.com take stuff back whenever they want? Maybe we should just stick to the old fashioned books that clutter up the house?
If not Big-Brotherish, it is certainly creepy.
Day 29 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.