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Posted: June 14, 2012 7:27 p.m.

When fiction becomes a reality - the legacy of Ray Bradbury

Science fiction writer Ray Bradbury painted the landscape of how human nature and mass media co-mingle. In many ways, he describes technology as both a blessing and a curse.

Since Ray Bradbury's death last week, many people have speculated whether Bradbury's books set a footprint for how human nature and mass media co-mingle. Many of Bradbury's most famous novels, written in the 1950s, seemed to foreshadow events in today's world where technology surrounds us to the point in which we stay connected to everyone and everything 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In perhaps one of his most famous novels, "Fahrenheit 451," named for the temperature at which paper burns, the characters ignore books in favor of electronic media. While in reality, books are not burned, books are ruled as being too challenging for people in his novel.

Instead of reading, people have "large, flat screen" televisions in their homes as a primary source of entertainment. They watch other families doing activities. If you think about the majority of television that floods us everyday, Bradbury could almost be credited with conceptualizing the concept of reality television.

Bradbury also writes books were eliminated because people have short attention spans. This is mirrored today, considering technology has allowed us to experience instant gratification.

He describes an accessory everyone had which would play music into their ears. The characters in the ‘futuristic setting' of "Fahrenheit 451"sported Seashell and Thimble Radios. The descriptions of these tools are eerily similar to the invention of earbud and Bluetooth headphones. Bradbury also envisioned robot bank tellers who offered their financial services to people around the clock - an odd resemblance to an ATM? Bradbury seemed to be right on the money.

Before closed circuit television was even running, Bradbury introduced the idea of Omnipresent Electronic Surveillance, which kept tabs on his characters. He seemed to be aware that video surveillance could possibly be abused and infringe on the privacy of citizens.

Bradbury's legacy even involved Facebook - the constant in almost everyone's lives, the ultimate instant gratification service where people can connect with their friends and family from any cell phone, computer or tablet. The novel mentions the characters are communicating with their friends through a digital wall. In many years, after "Fahrenheit 451" was even published there would be a digital timeline for people to post, see messages and now chronicle their entire lives.

While many of the things Bradbury imagined did eventually become a reality, many science fiction writers will continue to write about flying cars and things that may never happen. Bradbury's predictions, however, actually stood the test of time.

 

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