Although living in a society that wasn’t much advanced in technology at the time, Bradbury did an astonishing job in predicting modern society and culture. Although it doesn’t seem very apparent to us, there are many key similarities between what Bradbury wrote about in Fahrenheit 451 and the “free” society we think we live in. Particularly relevant are the topics of censorship, isolation, and government control.
Nowadays it is common conception that we have freedom of press and of speech, but can we really say that, when a French cartoonist makes use of these rights, but gets killed along with his colleagues? This recent case of slaughter because of something different being exploited is equivalent to what happened in Bradbury’s society. People that were “different”, meaning that they were trying to exploit the truth, were considered a threat to society. If let free, they would stimulate the thoughts of the people, and possibly make them unhappy. Here we see the hypocrisy of the human race. From the early Greek philosophers, humans have always been in search of the truth, but now they are suddenly denying denying it because it could hurt them.
Isolation is another big issue of our society. It seems that technological development is inversely proportional to the density of human relationships. Especially the internet has become a double-edged sword. While it is certainly useful for the amount of information one can find, it all depends on how the information is used. The phenomena of social networks makes people think that they’re connected, while they’re actually alone. They sit behind a screen, trying to boost their virtual reputation by posting some quotes whose meanings they probably don’t even understand. Sadly, this was also predicted by Bradbury, especially referring to Mildred. In fact, she is so isolated to think of the people airing on the TV as her family, and to not even remember where she met her husband.
In life, we often have to choose between A and B, but do we always ask ourselves where these options come from? The answer is no, and it affects our lives without us noticing it. Today, the governments have the power to hide or modify information, creating the illusion of living in a happy world, whereas there are many issues that the average citizen doesn’t even take into account daily, mostly because this lack of information itself. Analogously, the government in Fahrenheit 451 forbids books, endless wells of information, with pretest that they would make people unhappy. The fact that in the book some characters admit that they are actually happy mustn’t deceive us: it’s the information of what happiness really is that’s missing.
Bradbury has had the intuition of the society we’re currently experiencing, but hasn’t abandoned hope. In fact, he creates characters that are willing to change things, like Montag, Clarisse, and the People of the Books. Nowadays, he would probably think that we would need the People of the Truth.