“Peace, Montag. Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of non-combustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking. They’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change.”
Despite books being banned, the people in the world of Fahrenheit 451 are surrounded by mass media and chocked full of arbitrary facts. Unlike the futuristic worlds of other famous English-language dystopian novels such as Orwell’s 1984, the government in Fahrenheit 451 does not produce propaganda to discourage the reading of books. This is because they do not need to. As Beatty explains, people gradually began to find it more convenient to consume media when it is condensed rather than in its full form- “everything boils down to the gag, the snap ending.” With the rise of mass media, books in their full form gradually became obsolete and people are reduced passivity due to the wealth of convenience in their lives.
The government of Fahrenheit 451 does not need to take great measures in prohibiting free thought as they do in 1984, because people are so occupied with empty pleasures and thoughtless consumption that they do not have time to think. To the characters in the novel, “life is immediate, the job counts, pleasure lies all about after the work.” The convenience in their lives has led to their extreme passivity, and they do not bother “learning anything save pulling buttons, pulling switches, fitting nuts and bolts.” Montag does not even stop to question what he is doing with his life until Clarisse – whose unaffected nature and gentle curiosity provides a catalyst for the onset of Montag’s intellectual awakening – questions him on it. He does not even realise that he does not love his wife because he is not accustomed to thinking.
With the popularity of mass media and technological convenience, people are reduced to mindless consumption and do not even stop to question the nature of their own occupations, and things in life that truly matter are drowned in a sea of irrelevance.