When I first read George Orwell's novel "1984," I was in high school and 1984 was a date in the future. Now it is past. Students still read that book, and we discuss which of Orwell's pessimistic predictions have come to pass.
One thing that always bothered me about 1984 was not the fact that the government Big Brother controlled everything, but the fact that people had let it happen. I didn't think it was realistic that people would allow the government to install video equipment in every home, giving Big Brother access to their private lives. Why would people voluntarily do that? It didn't make sense, and so I thought it could never happen. And, so far, it hasn't.
But now I know how it could. Big Brother didn't have to force people to allow the technology into their homes to permit the government to spy on them; people did it voluntarily. In fact, we are voluntarily doing it now, and it scares me. Not that Obama is using it to spy on us I don't believe so, at least not yet. But the miraculous gadgets that we purchase with glee are the conduits the government could easily use to monitor us and we've paid for them and installed them ourselves.
For example, my daughter in the next room is on Skype, happily videochatting with her boyfriend in Ecuador. He sees her, because her laptop computer has a camera installed. And when she was in Ecuador, I was joyful whenever the Internet was working and I could see her and she could see me. But that videocam is a portal into the privacy of my home, and even though now I control who views me through that portal, the fact that it exists lays the groundwork for Big Brother.