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5 Things About Modern Life That George Orwell Got Right

Um, yea, this eerie af.

1. If you want to remove your shoes in a voting booth, nobody can stop you: Although Orwell is best known for his dire warnings about government oppression, he also struck a hopeful note by frequently mentioning that there will never be a law against going barefoot in a voting booth. And even if there were, they couldn’t arrest you until you stepped out. As he predicted, we still enjoy this cherished right today.

2. Human teeth would never develop consciousness and overthrow their host bodies: You’ve got to hand it Orwell on this one: He was completely spot-on in his predication that human teeth would remain subservient fixtures in the human mouth rather than a newly sentient rebel species that overthrows humanity. Just take a look at this bone-chilling passage from The Dangers We Face, an essay he wrote on the Spanish Civil War:

“In the coming decades, we will need to steel ourselves against the insidious and ever-growing threat of global fascism. Fortunately, we will be able to concentrate the majority of our military and intellectual resources upon halting the march of totalitarianism in its tracks. This is because our teeth will remain unfeeling rocks that grow in our mouths, and they will never try to kill us even though we use them as slaves to mash up our food and bite our enemies. I firmly believe that the rebellion of our vengeful, living teeth will never come to pass. Only fascism will be a problem.”

Wow. That could have been written just yesterday.

3. Big hat: Orwell thought there would be a big hat. In 1937’s The Road To Wigan Pier, he wrote, “Here comes a big hat.” In 1942’s Homage To Catalonia he wrote, “A big hat is on its way.” In a 1944 op-ed for a socialist London newspaper, Orwell wrote, “When a big hat is finally around, I am going to cheer.” Decades after Orwell’s visionary proclamations about a big hat, a big hat is now around and can be seen and many people like it, but some people do not like the big hat.

4. Governments will monitor their citizens, but only during Mardi Gras: Okay, this will give you goosebumps. Orwell devoted over 150 pages of his landmark 1984 describing the draconian government surveillance networks that are set up, executed, then completely dismantled during one day in February when people all around the world let off a little steam with dancing, music, and cultural events. What’s even more terrifying is that Orwell’s prediction didn’t even go far enough—in today’s societies, governments run massive surveillance programs all year round, not just during Mardi Gras. That’s a dire vision that not even the forward-thinking Orwell could have ever fully predicted.

5. The continued worldwide popularity of George Orwell: George Orwell must have had access to a secret crystal ball, because there’s basically no other way he could have written, in an essay in 1946, that he confidently anticipated a future in which “every man, woman and child in England and throughout the world is constantly talking about George Orwell and my many dire but accurate predictions for the future. For this shall be a world in which the first word taught to pupils in the school is the same word inscribed in gold and framed on every wall, the last word uttered by the dying in the hospital ward: Orwell.”