2014 or 1984?

As someone who just recently read George Orwell’s 1984, this blog prompt really struck home for me. Living in a society where we have absolutely no choice in how we lead our lives seems unrealistic and far-fetched, which is exactly what the 1984 Apple Macintosh ad is trying to portray. It’s as if the woman running to destroy the giant teleprompter is society’s freedom from the controlling power of “Big Brother”, just as Apple hopes their new computer technology will give people to change from the norm and lead individual lives. But is it so unbelievable in this day and age that there are still people who live in a world where their voice is not heard, and their decisions are made for them? This is the point that Mike Daisey dissects in his talk about Apple factories in China and how disturbing the reality is behind our beloved tech-toys.

I am guilty of being a part of the Apple religion, as Daisey describes it; I can’t go a day without my MacBook Pro or even a minute without my iPhone. For me, these tools allow me to live my daily life the way I want, the way I think is socially acceptable. But do we ever look past to see if there is something behind the beauty that is the Apple store? To see the people who do not see these things as toys, but rather the controlling factor behind the miserable lives they lead. When Mike Daisey takes it upon himself to investigate, the results he finds are chilling. What many Apple users don’t know is that our precious toys are the cause behind so much suffering in Shenzhen, China. The people who spend the majority of their days being hidden from the rest of the world, not given the rights they deserve, and being forced to waste their lives away hand-making our electronic toys.


So now how hard is it to believe that we live in a world much like that described in this clip from the movie, 1984https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1WI8BUe9Eg. The antagonist, O’Brien says, “obedience is not enough… power is tearing human minds apart and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing”. In the grand scheme of things, it’s as if this is what our society has done to people on both sides of the equation. The people being forced into inhumane working conditions have no choice to be obedient, or be out of the job. They are hidden away and never thought about by the people who benefit from their work. Our minds as Americans have been molded to believe that things like this don’t happen, and that iPhones are made magically, without any human suffering.

Mike Daisey describes the horrific conditions these factory workers have to live in and how we iPhone users have no idea about any of it. Apple does it’s best to keep everything out of public eyes, but as Daisey puts it, “do you really think Apple has no idea? In a company obsessed with the details…” It is alarming to realize that, after read 1948 and finding it to be completely fictional, that we are in fact living in a world where major corporations can control how much we know about society around the world. The fact that we don’t actually have the power to control every aspect of our daily lives, unless we want to risk breaking societal norms and acting out in a way that changes how we live our lives.


3 thoughts on “2014 or 1984?”

  1. I definitely agree that “our minds as Americans have been molded to believe that things like this don’t happen”. I believe that this is a condition resulting from our capitalistic society. We are definitely teetering closer towards Orwell’s vision of society with the larger corporations as Big Brother. I am struck less by the concept of we as american citizens living in blissful ignorance, and more concerned by the idea of the small group of corporate executives who willingly sanction these activities. These are people who know both sides of the story, and choose to maintain the status quo. Those are the people that I want to point the finger at and blame for allowing it to happen. How do we reconcile this with the people who are forced to work inhumane labor conditions so that we can enjoy our lifestyle?


  2. I totally agree with you that it is amazing how we find many aspects of 1984, a fictional novel, present in the world today. I too am a big fan of the novel, so I was taken aback by the striking similarities between Foxconn and Orwell’s 1984 dystopian society. I think twice now every time I go to type on my keyboard or check my texts.


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