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In today’s society, we are always striving to make our world a better place. Many texts and films have been created to depict a utopian world that enables people to explore and experience the perfect society anyone could wish for. However, aiming to establish a utopian society can lead to a dystopia, as we may feel inclined to take drastic measures such as censorship, surveillance, and control to keep us safe, but is also an invasion of privacy and a breach of human rights. Texts like Fahrenheit 451 and Nosedive exaggerate and critique current controversies in our society and provide an accurate glimpse of our future. Do you think we are living in a dystopia?

All mainstream media are supposedly covering every single angle to this virus that they can, with all the updates on cases, hoardings, and brawls from country to country, to keep society up to date with the latest news. But is showing the panic helping us stay calm? And how is toilet paper more newsworthy than the real issue – the victims of the virus, the nurses and doctors working countless hours, the conditions of lockdown and deaths around the world? Long queues, toilet paper, and face masks are not the full picture of the pandemic. So, what is being censored? It is impossible to answer this question, but inferences can be made. China has had no new cases of coronavirus. This is great news to hear and it gives much-needed hope…but…Why are foreign journalists expelled from China? During this pandemic, Facebook and YouTube have been charged with censorship. The posts were ‘fake news’ and ‘scams’, but then why have the ethical teams charged them? And who is watching us and why? There is danger in censorship. This kind of propaganda is the foundation of a dystopian world and we are beginning to see it!

Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 imagines a dystopian world where information and knowledge are censored through the banning and burning of books. In multiple scenes, the main character is seen burning books in people’s houses because these books and the information they contain have been censored to prevent knowledge from the citizens. With the elimination of information that contradicts the government, people will only know what they are told by the government; they think it will eradicate any issues in their society. “If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none.” Of course, we are not burning books and rewriting history, but we are constantly being overwhelmed with contradicting information and thus there is no trust in our leaders. 

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A common ideology that our contemporary society associates with social media is that it enables individuals to communicate, share information, produce and distribute content, and connect with others. But when we press agree, do we know where our information goes? It is so easy to agree to the terms and conditions so when we sign through, we sign our information away. Who is accessing and using that information? The amount of data that these apps collect is concerning. One can agree that the information that we post online is used as a way of surveillance, the surveillance that strips us of our privacy which we have a right to. So, what’s going on with this new Tik Tok app? TikTok is a Chinese social networking app where that is used to create short dance, lip-sync, comedy, and talent videos for lighthearted fun. However, do not be fooled by the quirky 15-second videos, TikTok tok has been accused of surveillancing the activities gathering the private and personally identifiable data that tracks the location and activities of its users, and selling them to servers in China. Crazy right? Our data is out there and we cannot do anything about it….The company is benefiting from the alleged surveillance because it uses this data to sell targeted ads. Surveillance may be justified when dealing with law enforcement agencies and tackling crimes such as terrorism and money laundering, however, surveillance causes an invasion of privacy to millions of users whose privacy should be respected and protected, otherwise will lead our society to a dystopian. 

Black Mirror’s Nosedive portrays a dystopian world where social media has dehumanized human interactions, relationships, and empathy. In the film, the fact that every character wears a digital contact lens connected to the phone’s rating app shows that they are constantly put under surveillance by the government and as individuals, and can go through each others’ data, especially with the content they post and when they posted it. This links to our current society in which lives are constantly put under surveillance by electronic devices and social media apps, such as TikTok, where the constant surveillance and breach of privacy will lead to a dystopian society. The more we know about where our information goes, the more fear of dystopia we have…..

As a society, we all try to make our world a better place by comparing it to utopia. But in an attempt to create a utopia, our current controversies determine whether we are becoming a dystopia because of the censorship using propaganda and the constant surveillance of social media apps. Texts like Fahrenheit 451 and Nosedive have predicted that censorship and surveillance are relevant in our society by exaggerating our societal fears. Have these societal fears become reality? Now do you think we are living in a dystopia?

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