If anything, this surveillance thing reiterates how important literature is.
Despite how absurd it seems (and it does often seem absurd) to see paranoid teenagers or burnouts quoting 1984 at every turn, dystopian literature is probably one of the best deterrents against actual dystopia—because then when news leaks that the government is collecting cell phone data and that they have access to our email accounts and Facebooks in the name of this nebulous idea of “security”, people can draw parallels to the stories they’ve read and the consequences in those stories. While the United States is a far cry from Oceania, the fact that we can remember FREEDOM IS SLAVERY written in serifs on a white page while our protagonist destroys evidence of the past keeps us from becoming that.
Which is exactly what Orwell and writers like him intended, and why dystopias like Fahrenheit 451 are deeply horrifying—because a well-read population has a much harder time being suckered, and therefore, the destruction of literature contributes to the destruction of free society.
We often discount the importance stories have, whether it’s books or movies or television or comics—but stories go beyond entertainment. They teach us and craft our boundaries. They are education.