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Top 5 Orwellian Nightmares That Already Exist

Top 5 Orwellian Nightmares That Already Exist

By Robert Runyon

If you call something Orwellian, you're likely referring to an oppressive totalitarian state with an overabundance of surveillance, such as Oceania from 1984. Which is sad, because, apparently he was a nice guy. Maybe 1984ian didn't have the right ring. No matter what word you choose, it has continually become more applicable since Orwell first wrote about it. For example, on Monday, an Alitalia pilot sighted a drone flying near JFK, perhaps doing surveillance. It’s enough to make some people don foil hats! Here are a few other Orwellian (or 1984ian) nightmares that have or are about to come true.

Camera Surveillance Everywhere: This is probably a phenomenon we’ve all grown up with that we think is normal. Of course there are cameras everywhere monitoring banks, offices, and street corners. They have to be there in case something happens, right? Yet during Orwell’s time, this was the stuff of dystopian science fiction. Now it’s just the source of some of the greatest GIFs of all time.

Rewriting Inconvenient History: Just as in 1984 when the Ministry of Truth would change history based on Oceania’s shifting alliances, the same goes for the world today. This can range from the absurd stories of unicorn lairs and 18-hole-in-one games from North Korea to the more subtle idolatry of imperfect men throughout Western history such as Christopher Columbus.

Doublethink: In 1984, Orwell describes the usage of a practice called “doublethink,” in which a word’s meaning is exactly the opposite of the thing that word actually describes. This is perhaps most common in political bills. Examples could include the Clean Skies Act and the Healthy Forests Initiative, which increased pollution and allowed more logging, respectively.

Telescreens: One of the most disturbing elements of 1984 is the always-on two-way telescreens that Big Brother uses to monitor everyone in Oceania. Thankfully, we’re not to that point yet. However, webcam hacking has created this nightmare for many people around the country. By breaking into people’s webcams, hackers can drop in on the activities of people around the world without their knowing.

Constant Privacy Violation: By now, it’s a joke. If you use a certain combination of words while on the phone, the FBI will start eavesdropping on your conversation. With the passage of the Patriot Act (an example of doublethink in itself), the FBI was granted the power to listen to any phone call or e-mail it dubbed suspicious. This is magnified as internet service providers are allowed, through bills such as CISPA and practices such as the Copyright Alert System, to throttle customer usage based on suspected pirating.

What modern innovation freaks you out the most?

Tags: sparknotes, 1984, george orwell, books-and-comics

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