Big Brother Rearing His Ugly Head

It seems Americans are bound and determined to solve the problems of the 21st Century by giving up the hard-earned rights won for them by their forefathers of the past three centuries.

It's an extremely shortsighted way to try to resolve existing troubles but, obviously, many prefer that approach -- the easy way out -- to a more thoughtful one.

Unfortunately, our society often opts for short-term convenience at the expense of long-term goals.

In the 1930s, when President Roosevelt created the Social Security program, conservatives warned that the 9-digit Social Security number issued to every citizen would eventually be universally applied for identification purposes, and that the government would keep tabs on all of us taxpayers from the cradle to the grave.

Big Brother's Watching Us

It was too early for conservatives to point to George Orwell's "1984" or to the Nazi branding of Jews during the Holocaust of World War II, but their point was clear: Big Brother would be watching us. Now, as we see the 20th Century coming to a close, it appears that circumstances have proven them to be right.

Throughout the last six decades, Americans have freely waived one right after another while chasing solutions to society's problems (bringing to mind Don Quixote stubbornly tilting against windmills):

* * * We don't seem to care much anymore about being protected against unreasonable searches and seizures. We seem to approve of ceding power to the police to stop cars willy-nilly in the hope of finding someone doing something unlawful.

Are Our Homes Still Our Castles?

* * * Remember when we considered our homes to be our castles? Do we really want to give up on our right to life, liberty and the pursuit to happiness?

* * * Why not allow insurance companies, banks, supermarkets and others to take our thumbprints (ostensibly to prevent us from cashing bad checks or otherwise defrauding them) and to maintain extensive files on our personal health, finances, credit and consumption habits?

* * * If it were put to a vote, would we really cast away our right to privacy?

Who's Next?

* * * As the age of the computer advances at astronomical rates, it would seem wise of us to think very carefully about allowing government and others to create data bases on virtually every segment of society. Sure, it sounds reasonable to keep such data on convicted sex offenders or to take DNA samples from convicted violent criminals, but we are compelled to wonder, who's next?

Will computers eventually be used to categorize us by ethnicity or religion? Will they have data banks on bald people, left-handers and the handicapped? Will there be another list of people detailing their sexual preferences? Or, maybe, we'll create a data base on the good looking ones in our society -- and another data base exclusively for the ugly.

And when we've given up most of our rights, if not all, how then do we go about solving problems without the convenience of having an easy way out?

How easy will it be then for government, big business and others to trample on us?

And where will we find the spirit then to fight for what we know is right?

I wrote this column as a "My View" for The Hour newspaper of Norwalk, Conn., on April 25, 1998. I now write my views on a wide variety of topics on HubPages. To view my HubPages Profile Click Here

George Orwell's '1984.' Big Brother Is Watching You!

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Comments 36 comments

Agro Donkey 8 years ago from Ohio

Big Brother has trampled us for far to long but noone seems to care anymore. They sit and watch their TVs as if nothing is wrong. The problem is that the solution is to hard and we as a people are to damn lazy to do anything at all.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Sad,Agro Donkey, but true. Too many of us are, like Don Quixote, tilting at windmills and just don't have the stomach for sustained war against those who would oppress us. we go along quietly as the sheep go to slaughter. But maybe, just maybe, some of us are awakening!


Bob 8 years ago

Bill..I agree with being worried about "Big Brother" watching over us , but I think it's which side of the coin we're looking at. I think you know what my thoughts are..Catch you over coffee and we can go round and round.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thanks, Bob, for commenting. The day liberals and conservativies find agreement will be a day to celebrate, indeed.


solarshingles profile image

solarshingles 8 years ago from london

We are going towards that society. The final stage is implementation of microchip in every member of society for a total control over each member. That process has already started in some places. How very sad.

p.s.

Luckily, the world is so much divided, that it won't work all over.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Let's hope you're right, solarshingles. They're off to a flying start already. They're already picturing us driving through tolls, past bank windows and through grocery aisles while reading out chips and deducting the dollars without ever having to send us a bill. Next thing you know, we'll all have Stepford wives.


jimcrowthers profile image

jimcrowthers 8 years ago from Port Charlotte

And what's wrong with Stepford wives, exactly? <grin>

I think one of THE best books for children on this topic is the one you mentioned in the image, and that is "Animal Farm". That should be required reading (if it isn't already). For adults, probably "1984".

Great post, William!


jimcrowthers profile image

jimcrowthers 8 years ago from Port Charlotte

I accidentally pressed the post button twice, but, hey, you get an extra comment from me.

Trying to say something contributional, I think Bush's wire tap program was the worst thing to happen to us and our freedoms since the Patriot Act, and I'm not sure I can ever forgive him or his administration for that.


donnaleemason profile image

donnaleemason 8 years ago from North Dakota, USA

I think they already have us categorised.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thanks for the two nice comments, jimcrowthers. They shot part of the Stepford Wives in the old Lockwood-Mathews Mansion in Norwalk, Conn., where I lived and worked for many years. I read "Animal Farm" as an adult, and I enjoyed like a little kid. George W. Bush has violated his oath so many times that it's difficult to select just one violation as being the worst.

You are right, Donna, of course. But I often quote some unknown wise man who said, "No matter how bad it gets, it can always get worse." Thanks for commenting.


rmr profile image

rmr 8 years ago from Livonia, MI

Excellent hub. Those uf us who feel this way, are often called conspiracy theorists, or paranoid. But, yet another wise man said,"It's not paranoia if they really are out to get you!".


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thanks, rmr. That's true. But, anyone who doesn't see Big Brother peering over his shoulder doesn't have his eyes open.


ColdWarBaby 8 years ago

What is probably the most frightening aspect of todays’ fascist move at world domination is that it is more plausible and likely to be successful today than ever before. 

Even as recently as Hitler’s attempt, the world was a much “bigger” one and there was, ultimately, a unified resistance.  Today, thanks largely to the efforts of America at obstructing any efforts at global cooperation, no such unified force exist. 

The Soviet Union had other superpowers with which to contend.  It was beaten by America at its own game of clandestine intervention in the affairs of other nations. 

America now stands alone in the superpower category and shows no signs of willingness to share the status with anyone else again. Given the incredible explosion of technology and the rampant expansion of corporatism and global privatization it is very nearly too late to stop the world dictatorship looming just ahead.

Only a united effort by all other nations will suffice to bring America’s aggression to a halt.

http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/unsanam2


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Whille I agree that there's a fascist movement toward world domination, ColdWarBaby, but I would make the distinction that it is not an American movement, rather it's that of the Bush Administration and its apologists -- helped along by the reticence of gutless Democrats and liberals who fear losing their lofty political positions by speaking out. Every passing day makes it more difficult to speak truth to power, but all is not lost yet. America is always fails to act until someone, or something, awakens the sleeping giant.


solarshingles profile image

solarshingles 8 years ago from london

'Every passing day makes it more difficult to speak truth to power, but all is not lost yet. America is always fails to act until someone, or something, awakens the sleeping giant.'

I especially like this quote! Men in black could not work against its own people for good.


Karen Ellis profile image

Karen Ellis 8 years ago from Central Oregon

Great hub. You are right, when people were first offered social security as a solution to a problem, they ignored any who warned them of how this system would be used in the future. One wonders how far we are willing to go now and the near future in order to keep ourselves comfortable.

I like Solarshingles quote - Men in black could not work against its own people for good. - it just about says it all.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thanks solarshingles and Keren for your welcome comments. We certainly need to be ever vigilant.


compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 8 years ago from London UK

Hi William, Here in London we are the most watched city in the world with lord knows how many cameras watching us and its estimated we will be recorded up to 400 times a day and Big brothers not just getting bigger but getting much smarter with smart software behind the cameras...

With regards to online data etc, i think there are many pros n cons having this kind of technology, the pros, to suit our individual need and the possibilities in helping things from crime to health and our personal desires catered for easily. yet if i had to have a chip inserted into me with all my details on i would like it for its usefulness. but would not have because of more chance of fraud and hackers etc which is a shame..The future regarding all this will be exciting or very disastrous!

Great read btw.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

They're putting up the cameras now as fast as they can, and before long they'll be all over the world and backed up with software the will put an end to privacy -- We might as well take the word out of our dictionaries because it won't exist pretty soon. They're already laying the groundwork to get everyone chipped. It's just a matter of moving the chips from our credit cards, automobiles, etc. onto our persons. The fraud and hackers, compu-smart, are only the half of it. Worse than that are the governments and corporations that will keep the official records and operate Doublespeak Headquarters.


St. Vital 8 years ago

It surely is amazing

Technology is a two sided sword

On the one hand - we live with computers , fax machines and all the resulting benefits of communication and information. Technology allows for advanced telephone features and caller id , mp3 players etc

Yet the same technology can be turned in an evil manner against the civilian population resulting in big brother totalitarian technology , methods and tactics

The theme is to help you in your daily life

It its bad now - wait for the upcoming future


jim10 profile image

jim10 8 years ago from ma

It scares me that all of our news comes from the same sources. The media is a huge influence on America and their are too few people with too much control over what we see and here. The top ones just keep buying out the smaller ones. Sadly it seems to be that way with lots of things. My favorite Drink company Nantucket Nectars got bought by Schweppes. Tom's toothpaste bought by Colgate. The big guys just pay off the little guys with great products instead of competing with them. Both of the companies win but the cosumer will eventually be hurt by high prices or no choices. It bugs the hell out of me that the Boston Globe is owned by the NY Times. Couldn't someone from Boston own it instead? It is sad that everything is about money. Check out  http://www.mediaowners.com/to see who owns what.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

It wasn't that long ago, Jim10, that nearly every city had two, three or more newspapers. Now they're lucky to have one that isn't owned by one of the big corporations. The big corporations have always tried to buy out their competition, usually before they grew too strong, but today it's a mad frenzy. News has been replaced largely with "happy talk" or celebrity gossip on television, and with public relatilons press releases in many "newspapers." Although newspapers have always been a combination of journalism and business, these two roles were separated in my day by a solid brick wall. That wall has crumbled over the last couple of decades. I've touched on the need for "objective" reporting in several of my hubs because it's difficult, if not impossible, for citizens to make sound judgments without knowing the facts. Unless we get the pendulum moving back in the right direction, we are surely in for lots of troubles.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA

Very insightful hub and I do agree there becomes a point when we can give too much power to others. Thanks for sharing this insightful hub.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thank you, SweetiePie. I enjoyed your "Golden Rule" hub as well.


robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey

Excellent hub and provocative comments.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

I appreciate your comment, robie2. I'm very happy to see such interest in this topic. Thank you.


dutch84 profile image

dutch84 8 years ago

You're right. We Americans do give up our basic, human rights. We give up our freedoms, we give up our identities. All because we are constantly being told that we are part of the greater good. Which is not completely un-true. Unfortunately, it's very hard to find an alternative to our current way of life. We feel like this is the best way to do things. We forget about things like creativity and freewill...


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

As children, dutch84, we were taught to think for ourselves, use initiative, be a leader. As an adult, when we do these things we are criticized for being too far left, or too far right. If you don't go along with the conventional thinking you're considered a maverick, or worse. If you disagree with the government, you're called un-American. It will never be easy to stand up for what is good, and what is right, but if we don't we'll soon be totally without the freedom we worked so hard to achieve. Thanks for your perceptive comment.


budwood profile image

budwood 8 years ago from Southern Nevada

Yes, you're correct in your evaluation of the non-producers trying to control all and everything. Seems that's what happens when some sections of society have more time on their hands than sense in their heads.

But, what the heck - - we have to support the non-producers some way and if you can't count on your government people for entertainment, what can you count on them for?

- - And, as said, it doesn't matter whom you vote for - - just vote; they need the support.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

I find a light-hearted approach to our most serious problems is very wise -- and therapeutic. It's one of the reasons I had great admiration for President Kennedy. He never took himself too seriously. But he displayed this best in his news conferences when he always had a witty reply to questions those off-the-wall questions from the press. Thanks, budwood, for your welcome comment.


andrews profile image

andrews 8 years ago

Wow, I really enjoyed reading that. I completely agree. The goverment is trying to control society. We think of ourselves as free... However we are trapped by our identity. Powerful article, well done.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

I appreciate your comment, andrews, and I'm very glad you enjoyed reading the column. Since I wrote this piece, Big Brother's tentacles have only reached out ever further. Thank you.


Tackle This profile image

Tackle This 7 years ago

I read your hub and attempted to play "Devil's Advocate" for a moment. In the wrong hands unimpeded surveillance would be a bad "thing."

Please read my latest hub and let me know what you think...thanks


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 7 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

"Unimpeded surveillance" would be a "bad thing" in anyone's hands -- including, if not especially, any government. I read your latest hub on wiretapping. Wiretapping is a serious invasion of privacy and should only be used with a court order when absolutely necessary.


wilmiers77 profile image

wilmiers77 4 years ago from Oklahoma City, OK

Need more hubs like this one. It appears that Americans have fallen asleep, thinking that we have dealt with Big Brother because most every citizen has heard of his deeds, and vigilance has relaxed.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 4 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Americans certainly have fallen asleep, wilmiers77, as you have observed. Since I wrote this piece I have noted an ink pad next to the teller's window at the local bank I frequent. Our cell phones reveal who we talk with and when while our cars track where we go as cameras everywhere monitor our movements. Big Brother is alive and well here in the United States -- and elsewhere.

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