Facecrimes and 1984

Facecrimes and 1984

January 2nd, 2008 | Posted in Art & Society, Future of Terror

I noticed a news item the other day about the TSA having trained special personnel to wander airports and ask travelers innocuous questions, and then to watch their face expressions when they respond. Questions like, “where are you going,” or “going on a vacation?” The TSA believes they can train observers to notice “micro face expressions.” If your face expression is suspicious you will be taken aside for extra security screening or questioning.

Even though in an earlier career I taught courses in nonverbal communication, I found this newest security measure worrying.

And, today a Daily Kos blogger noted the connection to Orwell’s 1984 – the idea of there being “facecrimes.” He quotes from the book…Part 1, Chapter 5:

“He did not know how long she had been looking at him, but perhaps for as much as five minutes, and it was possible that his features had not been perfectly under control. It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself—anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offence. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime, it was called.”

Glen Hiemstra is a futurist speaker, consultant, blogger, internet TV show host and founder of Futurist.com. To arrange for a speech contact Futurist.com.

Glen Hiemstra

About Glen Hiemstra

Glen Hiemstra is the founder and owner of Futurist.com. An internationally respected expert on future trends, long-range planning and creating the preferred future, Glen has advised professional, business, and governmental organizations for two decades.