The recording of Verizon’s telephone calls is very similar to the telescreens present in 1984. Just like the telescreens, the recording of phone calls means that one’s personal information can be accessed and analyzed by the government. This is a significant invasion of privacy, since communication is generally meant to be a private activity between two individuals. This information can then be used by the government for their own purposes, which can either be for good, or for bad. 1984 is dissimilar to the Verizon incident because the primary reason that the people were spied on was in order to ensure that the government was not overthrown, and also to put down rebellions.
The recording of phone calls, more prevalent after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, are primarily in place in order to ensure that the American public is kept safe. Also, in 1984, the telescreens are used to ensure that people do not have any individuality and conform to their society, but in our society, phone calls are monitored in order to maintain safety.
The society in 1984 and the society in the 1960’s described in Baldwin’s essay “A Talk to Teachers” share many similarities. Baldwin believes that African-Americans have essentially been “brainwashed” by society into thinking that they are good for nothing and are nothing more than “animals”. They are taught to conform to societal standards, both by their parents and the people around them. Similarly, in 1984, everyone follows the rules and regulations of the society without questioning, for fear of punishment.
The Ministries of Love, Truth, Peace, and Plenty were in place to ensure that everyone conformed to society, and those who did not faced punishment by both the members of the society as well as the governmental organization. Baldwin speaks out against these roles placed on blacks, saying that they should be free to pursue their desires and dreams. He emphasizes the irony of the fact that blacks are “assured that anyone can be president”, but then are also told that they “never contributed anything to civilization.” At that time, from a young age, an African American child has been trained that he or she does not deserve the same privileges that a white person takes for granted. As a result of the way African-Americans were treated during this time period in America, the society had some significant parallels to that of 1984. Nowadays, with the end of segregation, African-Americans have been able to step out of the previous stereotypes that were placed on them, instead, being who they truly want to be.