George Orwell, psychic or lucky? Although released in 1949, Orwell’s dystopian novel has predicted many aspects of how society would look in the future but more specifically how surveillance and data mining would look. In 2017 it does not matter who you are, you are being watched, in more ways than one and even if you are not breaking the law or doing anything necessarily wrong your interests, habits, wants, needs and much more information about you is being collected, analysed and sold to various companies and organisations who use it to target you as a consumer and a democratic citizen.
If you have read Orwell’s 1984 you are probably familiar with what is called “telescreens” or screens that constantly display government propaganda to the masses. In 2017, our versions of telescreens are much more targeted and subtle than Orwell could have ever imagined, there is probably one in your pocket right now. In class we discussed how the Trump campaign used data mining techniques to formulate different advertisements to be exposed to different groups and demographics of Americans based on their values, beliefs, political aspirations, even personality types. These advertisements appeared like any other but were in fact targeted which leads me to believe that today’s versions of “telescreens” are even more dangerous than Orwell predicted, telescreen propaganda is on on our newsfeeds, on our televisions and on the side of almost every webpage we visit, we can’t escape it. The big brother surveillance has become such a key part of politics, business and even law. For example we can look at the 2016 legal dispute between the FBI and Apple when the FBI took Apple to court in an attempt to get access to all IPhone user data (cnbc.com).
Orwell tells us in 1984 about fictional individuals called “Proles” who are content individuals who do not realise the state of society around them (not so fictional in 2017). In 2017, ordinary citizens have become like sheep and these surveillance technologies are the sheep dog that guides us to make decisions and influence our thought process, and if you are not somewhat careful when analyzing different forms of media, you risk being a “prole”.
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