The Growing Trust of Technology and Social Groups

Albert Einstein stated,It is appallingly obvious our technology has exceeded our humanity ("Albert"). This quote is a very clear and concise summary of the books 1984 and Little Brother. In these books governments are willing to do anything to keep a close watch on their citizens. Technology plays a significant role in each of these books. Technology portrays the dangers of an excelling country and the changing trust in America. America is like the changing book covers of 1984,as the years go by the book covers change from the original design. Here are a few examples of the book covers.
Throughout the years the world has changed in many ways. The changing book covers of 1984 are just one example of how things change throughout the years. From the 60 years between George Orwell’s 1984 and Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother, America has learned to be more conscientious of whom people trust through technology and social groups; although being aware has its benefits, if no one in the society can be trusted, America will become the very antithesis it is avoiding: the chaotic societies in 1984 and Little Brother.


America is a society that is very technologically advanced compared to other countries. Although technology in both 1984 and Little Brother is very important and useful, there are disadvantages. In 1984, the government through the telescreens constantly watches Winston, the main character, and the rest of the population. Telescreens are similar to TV’s that are everywhere and watch every citizens every move. For The Party and Big Brother, (the government set up to rule over the citizens), these telescreens are a breakthrough technology allowing the government to watch and record every law broken by a citizen; this is a benefit for the government. On the other hand Winston, and his lover, Julia hand found the telescreens intrusive and inconvenient. The Party and Big Brother's motto around the cities is, "war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength" ("Orwell", 104). This quote is saying that by weakening the independence and strength of individuals’ minds and forcing them to live in a constant state of propaganda-induced fear, the Party is able to force its subjects to accept anything, even if it is entirely illogical. Winston is rebelling against the government, and it is challenging to rebel against an entity that watches one's every move. With the advent of advanced technology, the ability to hide one’s identity is available and anything is possible. American society is taught to question the accuracy of what is on the Internet. Caution should be used when on sites like Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter, keeping in mind that not everyone added as a friend is the person they say they are. The Internet is very useful, however, a person should not place significant trust into something that can easily be altered. In Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother, Marcus, a teenage boy, runs into many problems with the Internet. Marcus’s school Internet is locked and monitored every second of every day. Marcus or w1n5t0n (Marcus’s user name) has the ability to hack into the school computer system where he plays games and emails friends without being tracked. One day, Marcus’s Vice Principal, Mr. Benson called Marcus to the office because the administration had reason to believe that Marcus was “Double-you-one-enn-five-tee-zero-enn” ("Doctorow", 10) also known as W1n5t0n. Mr. Benson accused Marcus of hacking into the school’s system to steal last year’s standardized tests. Marcus was not responsible for that hack job. People like Mr. Benson trust technology too openly. Marcus slyly got away from the trouble, but was sure to be more careful about hacking next time. Most of the time the school administration has no idea when the Internet has been hacked. Marcus used this as an advantage to skip school and play Harajuku Fun Madness: a game connecting teenagers all over the world providing missions to fulfill in order to win. Marcus’ talents are another example of why technology cannot be trusted completely; the school has no knowledge of the hacking and Marcus is able to skip school. Technology will always have pros and cons; there will always be a benefit for one entity that is a disadvantage to another.


There are many social groups that exist where a person can fulfill a need in America. Both 1984 and Little Brother each show examples of fitting in. In the beginning of Little Brother the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) took Marcus and his friends and held them captive. Marcus is trying to figure out who and why these people were taking them away, “ If they were terrorists I wanted to know. I didn’t know what a terrorist looked like, though TV shows had done their best to convince me that they were brown Arabs with big beards and knit caps and loose cotton dresses that hung down to their ankles.” ("Doctorow", 43). America is a perfect example of people choosing to trust a certain group of people. After 9/11 occurred the average terrorist profile was an Arab. Not every Arab is a terrorist but once one breaks an American’s trust, they all break Americans’ trust. The social group is immediately singled out. The DHS was quick to judge, assuming the kids had something to do with the bridge being blown up because they were teenagers and just “happened” to be at the scene of the crime. The DHS did not trust a certain social group and decided to question them. Marcus was immediately singled out again, because he refused to unlock his phone and give the DHS his passwords for his computer…another example of distrust. Marcus is online chatting one day and a girl named Masha chats him. After everything happened with the DHS, Marcus changed his online name to M1k3y and rarely trusted people he did not know on the Internet. Masha claims she can be trusted and has information that Marcus may find useful. Marcus and Masha set up the “vamp mob,” a Harajuku Fun Madness distraction so that it is easier to meet. The rules of the VampMob: “ You are a part of a clan of daylight vampires. You’ve discovered the secret of surviving the terrible light of the sun. You need to bite as many other vampires as you can in order to stay in the game. To bite another vamp, you have to say, bite five times before they do. If another vamp says it before you finish, you are out.” ("Doctorow", 302) Marcus, and his girlfriend, Ange go through all the trouble of setting up this game in order to meet Masha. Once Marcus and Masha meet he quickly determines that she is very odd and of no use to Marcus. She is just another girl who likes to play Harajuku Fun Madness. In 1984 Winston and Julia meet with O’Brien whom Winston believes is a member of The Brotherhood, a group of anti-Party rebels. In time, Winston finds out that O’ Brien is actually a member of the inner party and has been getting useful information out of Winston for the use of The Party and Big Brother. In the quote "
In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it.” ("Orwell", 80). This quote means that in the end when all hope is lost you will still be forced to believe what the government has told you, even after fighting for a better life. After realizing this Winston thinks, “For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? If both the past and the external world exist only in the mind, and if the mind itself is controllable—what then?” ("Orwell", 80). When people make statements that puzzle one’s mind, it is harder to put distrust in them. A modern example of this can be seen in high schools. There are many social groups in high school and generally everyone fits into at least one. Teenagers are very judgmental and tend to quickly assess a person’s worth by the clothes they wear, the way they talk, and their attitudes. In high school, when kids are ingrained in one social group they tend not to migrate to other groups. If someone were to say something rude or insulting about one of their friends the person would go and tell their friend. One has to watch their actions and their words in a situation that is not trust worthy. In both books the main characters are forced to choose who to trust and where to keep a watchful eye. Learning to have distrust is an easy skill, but learning how to “know” whom not trust is the greater challenge. Both books show struggles of trust and moments when they chose wrong and trusted the enemy instead of questioning their decisions.

America has learned to move away from blind trust. Ever since 9/11 occurred, terrorism has become very real to American citizens. Airport security has been improved and work buildings are monitored. Full body scanning in airports is now being discussed because trust is disintegrating in this society. Although full-body scanners may be a good idea, here is an example of when it has failed,
"The scanner caught a subject's cell phone and Swiss Army knife -- and the microphone he was wearing -- but missed all the components to make a bomb that he hid on his body... Full-body scanners: they're not just a dumb idea, they don't actually work." ("Naked"). Everyone is more conscious of the threat and as a result, are more cautious. To a certain extent, this improvement of security is fabulous but it has not been working; if no one can be trusted, American society, as citizens know it, will perish. In Doctorow’s Little Brother and Orwell’s 1984 the governments are set up the way they are because of the belief that no citizen is trustworthy. The government has full power and only a few select citizens are trusted with the government’s secrets. In 1984 Winston is one of those citizens who knows more information about the government then most. Winston keeps a diary, which is strictly forbidden according to the government. Winston sits in the corner of a room out of the vision of the telescreens and writes all of his thought and feelings down. Winston talks about rebelling against the government and how much Big Brother is hated by many people. If the Party can trust someone like that how can anybody really truly be trusted? Winston’s actions show the reader that not even government-selected citizens can be trusted. Winston works in a government building changing information to fit the rules of the Party. Though Winston has this responsibility he does not know if Big Brother himself is real or if he is just a figment of The Partie’s imagination. American citizens have many privileges and are trusted, to a certain extent by the government. If the government feels in any way threatened by citizens, the government could become just like the government in Little Brother. People naturally question whether actions are right or wrong and if anything or anyone threatens the peace in America things could change, drastically.


In sixty years America has learned many ways of being more conscientious of whom and what the citizens trust in a rapidly growly society. If Americans are not careful, distrust in others could become the chaotic societies in 1984 and Little Brother. The quoteIt is appallingly obvious our technology has exceeded our humanity ("Albert"). Albert Einstein implies that technology has become too big a burden for the human species to handle. Einstein’s quote also emphasizes that we have put too much of the society’s trust in technology. Trust is a central part of making a society work. Without trust, democracy becomes anarchy, order turns into chaos and all hope is lost. Technology has changed the lives of the majority of Americans; and citizens of the entire world in ways people could not imagine 30 or 50 years ago. With all the drastic changes technology has made citizens are forgetting how to think, speak, and act for themselves. Americans put too much trust in technology and society without thinking twice about the decisions that are made.