The Dystopian Novel Fahrenheit 451 By Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury’s warning to society, will technology engulf the world?
Ray Bradbury once said, ‘I don’t try to describe the future, I try to prevent it,’ but is it too late to escape his vision?
Welcome to the 2019 Dystopian Fiction Conference, my name is Andrew. The novel Fahrenheit 451 revolves around a future dystopian society. The author, Ray Bradbury warns us about the engrossing effects of technology. His fictional world in Fahrenheit 451 shows us how technology can develop a society with no genuine connections, no distinctive thoughts, and a generation hooked to screens. In 2019, the rise of smartphones and computers has already begun, we are already becoming victims of being snatched into the world of technology. Everywhere, people are constantly blocking themselves from the real world, consumed by screens. We must revisit the novel Fahrenheit 451 more than ever before, to address Bradbury’s message which we have failed to foresee.
In the novel, Bradbury prompts us to question if technology was overused, could it lead to the demise of social interactions and relationships in the future. This is evident from Montag’s marriage collapsing due to his wife, Mildred’s obsession with technology, blocking herself from her husband and the real world. Montag pleads, “Will you turn the parlor off?’ he asked, “That’s my family,” (Bradbury, 1953 pg. 65). This demonstrates how Montag is losing connection to his wife, as she lives her life away watching her simulated ‘family’ on the TV parlor walls. Further in the novel, Mildred compares the values of books and technology, “Books aren’t people. You read and I look around, but there isn’t anybody!” … ‘Now,’ said Mildred, “my ‘family’ is people,” (Bradbury, 1953 pg. 95). Moreover, Mildred’s words illustrate the dangers of technology, Mildred perceives virtual reality as ‘people,’ further showing us how deeply she values technology, more than the inspiring books which could open her eyes to the beautiful world around her. Do you connect and interact with others through technology more than in real life? Clearly, there is no question, mobile devices and screens are drifting us further apart than ever before.
Will the rise of smartphones, social media, and the internet be the death of family relationships? There is no doubt, in 2019 the usage of mobile devices has destroyed family relationships and the quality of time once spent together. Reported studies in Sociology at the University of Warwick found “increasing evidence that the mere presence of a phone negatively affects face-to-face interactions… [and] decreases family cohesion and time together with their children, (2019).” Ultimately, evidence shows families are becoming more disconnected, the over usage and reliance on technology to amuse children is beginning to reflect a society like Fahrenheit 451. Additionally, Mrs. Bowles, a housewife and lifeless friend of Mildred’s in Bradbury’s novel, instructs how she raises children, “You heave them into the ‘parlor’ and turn the switch. It’s like washing clothes: stuff laundry in and slam the lid,” (Bradbury, 1953 pg. 125). Evidently, Mrs. Bowles lets the TV walls raise her own children, comparing the manner of nurturing kids to washing clothes. There is no doubt in 2019, we must keep Bradbury’s message at the front of our minds; is this the future you want to raise a child in?
In Australia, schools are becoming overly reliant on technology to educate our students. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), “Australia is one of the highest users of technology in schools, and our classrooms have the highest proportion of students using computers at school.” However, has technology truly enhanced our learning capabilities? “Australia’s performance rates in reading have continuously fallen since the technology was introduced in 2000, (2018).” These statistics have clearly shown the overuse of technology is poisoning the minds of future generations. Ultimately, Bradbury leaves no question if we continue to rely on technology, we won’t think for ourselves. Soon we’ll become mindless zombies, unable to interact, unable to feel sympathy, and unable to look away from screens.
The dystopian novel, Fahrenheit 451, reflects similar characteristics to our own society, where technology has made people unwilling to take their eyes away from the bright, flickering screens around them. Bradbury’s message demonstrates to readers the overuse and reliance on technology can destroy the bonds between families and relationships. I’m absolutely certain you’ll agree we’re transforming into Bradbury’s foreseen future and together we must change where society is heading; it’s time to stop abusing technology and begin interacting with one another. Today I will leave you with an inspirational quote from Granger, the leader of the wanted book readers, who plans to rebuild society one day. “Everyone must leave something behind when he [or she] dies, my grandfather said… Something your hand [or soul] has touched some way and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there,” (Bradbury, 1953 pg. 200). So, what path are we going to leave behind for the future generations to come? A future where we can open our eyes to the real world around us or will we continue to walk around in a trance, oblivious to what the future could truly hold for us.