Notes on the dangers of reading Orwell.

The danger of reading Orwell is that you think you have done enough. You know now that an information dictatorship is a real and present danger. And if you know, so does everyone else, right? The problem is covered, no need to worry. There is a world famous book that points out the insanity of a mind controlled population through stealth use of technology. And if there’s any possibility of that remotely happening, then someone else that has read Orwell too and is in power will just….sort it out? And yet, everything you do is recorded. Every message you send, every e-mail, every like, post and uploaded photo. Every comment, every status update, every time you look at a profile, send a tweet, take a Snap, watch a video or a stream a show. It is all banked, saved and stored in the micro data vault you’ll never be able to find. Everything you buy is tracked on your bank card and your loyalty tags. Every time you buy fuel it’s tracked through your registration and CCTV. When you use online maps, the journey is recorded and a profile of your travel habits is created and observed in a dark room by strangers that regard you as piece of data, a minute fraction of information that builds a picture of your life and those around you. Everything you say is heard, everything you talk about is analysed. When you meet someone for dinner, or a coffee, or on the street, your phones are co-located and the relationship is established. What is the connection between these two people? Let’s look at their social media, their family, their work history, their location information. All this is done in seconds as you stand or sit in the world of no privacy. There is no escape. You are logged in at work. They give you a phone which can be tracked for quality and training purposes. They give you a car and a tablet which is monitored for employee compliance and punctuality. Your online activity at the office is regularly observed by the IT department for potential breaches of company policy. All banked, stored, saved forever. You are logged in at home because you need Wi-fi to pay your bills, watch your shows, book your holiday, do research, communicate with the outside world. The world outside now is considered dangerous. It’s important that you are concerned about going outside. Outside, there are potential dangers. Crime, disease, pollution, freak weather events, traffic accidents. Going outside is a bad idea, you need to stay inside where you can’t protest against the things about which you are vaguely uncomfortable. Your government needs to change but you don’t have the time to politically engage. Your time and attention are constantly absorbed by notifications, e-mails, phone calls, messages and tasks that ought to be done now. Now, now, now. Communications from work, calendar alarms, climate change, carbon tax, war here, war there, war coming, war almost over. Threats abound, anxiety is standard. And what is to be done? Nothing, it’s too late. The irony of Orwell’s nightmare being so available and obvious is that you were softened into thinking it could never happen. And then you sleepwalked into it. And here is you. Say hello to your new Big Brother.



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