What does the murky history of [the novel 1984‘s] telescreen tell us about the way we live now? The hints about an old man’s reluctance and television’s power suggest that totalitarian overreach might not start at the top – at least, not in the sense we often imagine. Unfettered access to our inner lives begins as a choice, a decision to sign up for a product because we ‘feel the need of it’. When acting on our desires in the marketplace means signing over our data to corporate entities, the erosion of choice is revealed to be the consequence of choice – or at least, the consequence of celebrating choice.

Henry Cowles on what Orwell knew.

As someone who first read 1984 relatively recently, the telescreen was definitely something that struck me as being one of the book’s more eerily prescient elements.1

  1. I’m assuming here, perhaps overly kindly, that no one at, sat, Apple or Facebook was trying to intentionally recreate the technology…