Are We Living in “1984”?

In Preston Russett’s “A Contemporary Portrait of Information Privacy: Collective Communicative Consequences of Being Digital,” he talks about how our our world is turning into that of George Orwell’s novel 1984. Like the novel, we have “no expectations of privacy.” We could be and are being watched almost all the time. Any movements, activities, mouse clicks, or calls that we make are being surveilled and recorded as data for later analysis (Russett, 40-41).

While we are very much aware of what is happening, we are doing nothing about it. After talking to a few friends during dinner, I realized just how aware we are. I think most people are particularly aware of websites using our information to give us advertisements which reflect our interests or something somehow related to us.  It’s gotten to the point, though, where we just accept it. And through passively accepting it, we let it continue to happen and then we ignore it. We don’t want to talk about it or think about it. It’s a freaky thing to think about, so we acknowledge that lack of privacy and blow it off (Russett).

Really the only solutions that Russett offers “on an individual level” are only using cash to pay for things and limiting the use of cell phones. In these requests, he recognizes that these suggestions are “inefficient” and “impractical” (Russett, 48-49) To me, I think they are completely unrealistic. I, personally, never carry cash unless I have to. I feel safer not carrying cash, and I find it a lot easier to just use a credit or debit card. Also, in order for my to get cash, I would have to make a special trip to an ATM (which, if that particular ATM is not one associated with my bank, it will cost me an extra fee) to take out cash. The convenience outweighs the sacrifice for me. Lessening the use of cell phones seems even more unrealistic to me, especially for the younger generations. Our entire social lives now consist of texting and using online social networking/blogging sites. How are we supposed to remain connected 24/7 without the use of our cell phones? Honestly, I think all of the information about me is already on the internet, and there’s no way to stop it from existing, so why not just continue using these conveniences?

I do not see a solution to the issue of privacy in a digital world. Eventually and inevitably, everything will go digital. It’s just a matter of time. It’s too convenient for it to not happen. Eventually, all worldwide governments, advertising agencies, companies, etc. will know everything about everyone. They will know what our interests are, who we hang out with, what we are currently doing, and where we are doing it. And they will know this about us every second of everyday. I don’t even want to imagine what they will do with all this data.

 

Russett, Preston C. “A Contemporary Portrait of Information Privacy: Collective Communicative Consequences of Being Digital.” The Review of Communication 11.1 (2011): 39-50.

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