The Circle: Blog Post 3

Throughout the novel, the author utilizes three ideologies within the Circle in order to show the level of transparency the company desires, making a claim about this culture and the extremes into which these mantras have taken root: “Secrets are lies”, “Sharing is caring”, “Privacy is theft”.In showing these ideologies within the company, it can be seen that these mantras lack an ability to entirely function in the “real world”.

After Mae put her life and job at risk when she stole the kayak, she soon realizes everything she did would be discovered by the Circle. When confronted by Eamonn Bailey, it appeared that Mae would try to hide her wrongdoing, keeping it a secret. When asked a series of questions regarding this secret, Eamonn tried to make the point that if Mae knew she was being watched, revealed what she had done, and aimed to learn from her mistake, then she would fulfill the ideals of the company and promote the mantras so highly valued.

The Circle strongly believes that “secrets are lies”. Mae makes the logical argument in defense of what she would do with information her family may want to know, but she chooses not to tell them for the sake of their feelings. Not all secrets are actually lies. Eamonn believes that issues regarding national security can be open, when this is not at all the case. For instance, the designated survivor, a US cabinet member who does not attend large events in case of attack, is kept secret. This person is not kept secret as a lie but as a protection in case of attack. This secret is meant for the betterment of the nation, not a lie to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.

In the idea that “sharing is caring” this is aimed at allowing Circlers to know everything about everyone. When you are young and it comes to sharing your toys with someone who doesn’t have any, maybe then “sharing is caring”. However, when it comes to data, health records, and personal information, sharing these intimate parts of life are not necessary in order to achieve a common good. In different views of politics, some people believe that people who make more money should have to pay a larger sum of many in taxes, encouraging the welfare system and preventing some capable people from returning to work. By encouraging this sytem, sharing is not helping these people improve their livelihood or sense of independence.

In the ideology of the Circle that “privacy is theft”, the company believes that by keeping things to yourself, you are robbing others of experiences they are entitled. Because Eamonn’s son has cerebral palsy, he is unable to experience some of the vast things that Circlers have and by denying him of that experience to keep it private, he is robbed of something that is believed to be rightfully his. Privacy belongs to an individual. You cannot take claim on the experiences, the data, or intimate details of someone’s life because they do not belong to you. There is nothing which to be stolen because privacy is entitled to each individual. Experiences may be shared, but choosing to share those details is in fact, what defines privacy.

In looking at these mantras in today’s world, they can not be upheld. Theses values in which the Circle idealizes are subjective. There are definitely times when secrets are lies, sharing is caring, and privacy can be viewed as theft, however, the extremes to which the Circle will go to put these ideas into practice is not realistic for the everyday person. In order to protect the safety of individuals, nations, and prevent misuse of information, keeping certain aspects of life private are essential.

Artifact Speech Outline: PSU Timely Warnings

Attention Getter

  • I am nothing. Why? Because I’m a woman.
  • What were you doing on your first weekend here at University Park?

Purpose of Artifact and Rhetorical Situation

Penn State’s “Timely Warnings” are a means of communicating with the entire campus about threats to the safety of the community that have been reported on campus.

  • At University Park, sexual assault, of both known and unknown attackers, is the most common offense reported in the warnings.
  • The warning often provides information about the perpetrator, including their race, sex, and general appearance.
    • This can cause people to make biases and assumptions about the attacker.
  •  In sending out these announcements, the community becomes civically engaged and is made aware of these issues that affect individuals, which in turn, affect the community.

Questions and Claims

Because of the presence of this artifact, people in the community are made aware of issues affecting students on campus, but the reports keep coming.

  • Ideologies Within Artifact
    • Civic Awareness is not enough to stop the problem
      • While the warning serves as a means to identify the issue it, it doesn’t appear people on campus are realizing the issue.
      • Rhetoric is aimed to be “contingent”, meaning the outcome of the rhetoric depends on the audience’s reaction.
      • While the warning serves as a notice that instances like sexual assault take place on campus fairly regularly, the notifications continue, and the issue is not stopped.
      • While the warnings provide safety tips, they are all generalized.
        • Not directly relevant in terms of the issue
    • Are these timely warnings really “timely”?
      • The notifications are sent out after an issue is reported, not after an issue has occurred.
      • On August 30, a forcible sexual offense by a known attacker was reported, but the event took place on August 20.
      • While the report was filed and citizens were made aware, the time lapse of one week makes it easier for people to brush the issue aside.
      • The lack of kairos makes it easier as an audience to disregard the information.
    • Despite the fact that threats to community should encourage citizens to look to overturn the issue to protect their own safety, the audience is not engaged in the factual information.
      • The reports offer facts about the attacker, location of attack, and  safety tips for the issue.
      • The artifact speaks to inform, but it does not seek to engage with the issue, which is the real problem.

Broader Context

While reported sexual assault occurs at about a weekly rate in State College, PA, there is a growing problem of rape across the nation.

  • In addition to the actual instances themselves, speaking out about the issue has become a problem in mass media.
    • Assumption that all victims are women
    • Assumption that victims encouraged the attacks against them based on the way they were dressed, how intoxicated they were, promiscuity
    • Assumption that victims who speak out are liars
      • Belief that men have more to lose
    • Attackers are left blameless or shortened sentences
      • Brock Turner
  • Sexual assault controversies raise concerns on gender differences, equality, and stigmas
    • Gender differences – some people feel that women lie about rape
      • Natural inclination to distrust women – Why?
      • View that women are deceitful – femme fatale
    • Equality – Does the status of the victim or the attacker make a person more believable?
      • People often sympathize with someone they know or someone beloved in the public eye.
        • Bill Cosby
      • View of women questioned because they are viewed as “liars”
        • Is this way women have less leadership positions in big business?
        • Idea that women are fickle
    • Stigmas – Victims who come forward are looked down upon for “ruining life” of attacker
      • By denying the fact they were violated, victims are forced to accept a lesser dignity and worth
      • People choose to believe the issue doesn’t happen because of the complications in proving the attack


  • Acknowledge and Respond
    • False allegations of rape are between 2% and 8% of all reported instances.

The Circle: Blog Post 2

Throughout Dave Eggers novel, The Circle, the author illustrates the relationship between data and privacy, showing the contradictory nature of these two thematic elements, forcing readers to reflect on the viewpoint in which the company takes on these issues in comparison to the effects of the relationship more obvious to readers.

In the novel, data is shown to have negative effects on privacy. When Mae first needed help in setting up her social profiles within the company, she mentioned to Gina that the task felt “extracurricular”. Gina, however, felt offended by the comment in that she considered the consistent commenting and participation within the InnerCircle and OuterCircle as essential to the work done at the Circle. Gina believes that the data creates a more connected community. She further points out that communication comes from the latin word communis which means “shared by all or many”. Gina, as well as other longtime Circlers, take on the belief that the endless communication within the company, through their data systems, is essential, in this way, eliminating privacy. By making a point to share every aspect of life at the Circle, users are limited in what knowledge is kept to themselves because the data is available for public consumption.

As Mae made a point to be more involved in the “inner” and “outer” social networks of the company, she failed to realize the effect it would have on her privacy. Although there was encouragement to seek out people like her, especially those who are children of parents with MS, Mae found it exhausting to keep up with these people. As she saw the endless exchange, Mae felt, “some darkness opening its wings within her,” (Eggers, 105). Mae felt that her father’s experience with MS was private and never even considered it as a workplace topic. Circlers feel that all parts of employees lives should be invested in the company, and use the data within the company to identify any areas in which employees do not forsake their privacy and in turn, urge them to get involved.

When Denise from human resources checks in with Mae’s progress, she believes that Mae is an enigma, a mystery in the eyes of Circlers. Because Mae still holds on to a desire to be private in some ways, the company feels the need to take action in making her understand the aspects of community that are so valued there. Efforts are made to get Mae more involved in social events. Mae’s whereabouts are made possible through data. Denise knew exactly what time she left for the weekend and when she returned on Monday morning. Mae can’t quite connect with the idea that the company wants to know everything about her, even what she watched on TV when she was at her parents house. Because the company holds Passion, Participation, and Transparency in high value, the data prevents any type of existence of privacy. Through participation in life at the Circle, circlers give up their privacy in order to be transparent. At the same time, this is a company highly regarded for the safe keep of highly important information. The values of the company and the role it plays in society cannot coexist.


Civic Artifact Idea: PSU Timely Warnings

Most students remember their first weekend at college as a memorable one. Maybe it’s their first time with a roommate, or maybe their first party, or maybe it’s their first chance to finally get to know the campus. Whatever the experience, most people remember it as a positive one, but for some people, it could be a traumatic one. On August 30th, 2016, Penn State’s first “Timely Warning” notification was sent out about a forcible sex offense that occurred on August 21st. These reports are sent because it’s “your right to know”. Since this date, five other “Timely Warnings” have been sent, and four of these five warnings have all been reports of forcible sexual assaults. That’s a problem…

As a student of Penn State University, I am entitled to know when there is a threat to the5827890190_26a0466f91_z-615x408 community or life on campus. Through the university’s timely warning announcements, all people at University Park are made aware of a reported incident that has occurred on campus and has affected people living here. In sending out these announcements, the community becomes civically engaged and is made aware of these issues. However, these notifications are linked to many other issues affecting civic life. Because of the presence of this artifact, people in the community are made aware of issues affecting students on campus, but the reports keep coming. It hasn’t stopped the problem.

Through the analysis of this artifact, it has drawn my attention to many concerns. In regards to the fact that basically all of the warnings issues have been about sexual assault, it made me question why more wasn’t being done to prevent it and raise awareness to the issue. In today’s society, rape is common. According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), an American is sexually assaulted every two minutes, resulting in an average of 288,820 victims per year in people 12 and older. Despite how many facts are presented or evidence of the problem, people never believe the victims. This calls attention to another issue. People assume that all victims are women. People assume that a women “asked for it” in the way she was dressed. People assume that men have more to lose when they are accused. This is the problem. People just assume things. Nobody takes the time to think about an issue until it makes the headlines. The Bill Cosby and Brock Turner cases are just two examples in which sexual assault and rape have brought to light in recent mainstream media. Why is it that people can talk about it when it’s in the media, but everyday victims can’t be heard? Rape culture and its implications has caused me to think about so many other issues. Rape is more than just a problem of violation and assault. It raises concerns on gender differences, equality, and stigmas. Through the analysis of this artifact, its role in civic life, and the further issues that branch from it, I hope to extensively evaluate the effect it has on people and give them another perspective on the conversation.


The Circle: Blog Post 1

At some point in life, everyone has experienced being in a new situation in which they were the “newbie”. In The Circle, Mae takes on a new job at the company, making her a “newbie’ in the sense that she must learn the characteristics of the company, their ideals, and how she plays a role as a Circler. Additionally, I have taken on a role as being a Penn Stater, a situation in which the values, expectations, and ideals of the university must be taken into account as I find my role in the large community of Penn State. Through analysis of The Circle and my experience at Penn State University, parallels can be drawn between the values of Penn Staters and Circlers and the ways these societies play a role in the development of a “newbie” and their integration into their respective communities.

Through evaluation of the values of Penn Staters and Circlers, there are similarities between these groups in terms of diversity, community, and the acquisition of knowledge. Given Penn State’s large size, there is a diverse group of people in the community. These diverse backgrounds are accepted and encouraged in order to broaden the scope of ideas spread among students. Additionally, Circlers value this ideal, given that the people Mae describe in her first interactions with the company are all different. A range of people with different skills work at the Circle and add value to the company. When Mae first stands to show that she is a “newbie”, the author draws attention to the fact that there is a range of national origins that are also “newbies”. Penn State also has a strong sense of pride and support, felt by the entire community. This sense of community is felt through involvement and support for other groups and organizations. The Circle shares this value, best shown through their support of “newbies” like Mae and support for other Circlers like Eamon Bailey, who gives a talk on his idea called “SurfSight”. Furthermore, Penn State prides itself as a nationally ranked academic institute, providing students with a quality education, encouragement of critical thinking, and desire to achieve. At the Circle, Mae’s position encourages her to get approval ratings with a score of 100, showing the desire for top level performance. The Circle is known for its creative thinking, innovative concepts, and willingness to find the very best for the people in the community. Through these similar ideals of these large groups, Penn Staters can relate to Circlers, their experience of a large environment, and the expectation to fulfill their important values in each society. 

How to Survive College…Without Trying That Hard: Passion Blog Ideas

They say there’s no one older than a high school senior, but nobody younger than a college freshman. Starting over is challenging even for the most prepared individual. The summer leading up to your first year of college is filled with a variety of different emotions. Then, one day, without even realizing, it hits you like a truck and you live in a dorm room with a stranger, praying that you find a way to make it through four years of trying to balance sleep, homework, and a social life. Oh, there’s one problem…you can only have two. pyramid-e1453861554945However, despite all the stress, new feelings, and trying to make it to your first 8:00 A.M., there is a reason you are here, and there are plenty of people to help you.

Maybe it doesn’t make sense that a college freshmen is writing a blog about surviving college when I have not yet survived college, but being in the situation, I’ll experience the struggles and work to overcome them as I go. People have always told me I have good instincts and give the greatest advice, so even if this blog helps one person, or makes their life a little easier, I will have fulfilled my purpose. While I might not be Dr. Phil or have all of the answers to the struggles of college, the aim of this blog is to do more than just help the average freshmen learn how to balance everything they hope to achieve. The point is to help a student think about ways to improve, feel better knowing they are not alone, and maybe just try out some of the advice offered here in hopes that they learn something about themselves or the people around them.

Throughout various posts, entries will focus on the most important aspects of college life. The topics will include issues, advice, and ways to reflect on forming friendships, having a social life, maintaining health and wellness (physically and mentally), balancing schoolwork, making a schedule, finding ways to get involved, the feelings of missing home, and how to deal with difficult people and hard times. These topics play a role in some capacity or another in the life of students everywhere. They say college is about finding yourself, but that’s hard to do if there are too many distractions. By helping students tackle these issues and learn how to live better, college students will feel better and will be able to focus on the things that matter most in their lives.

While the transition of leaving home and going into the “real world” can be daunting, it’s not so bad when you realize other people share similar difficulties. College is a time to find out what you like, what you hate, how you feel about big issues, what you want to do with your life, and what goals you hope to achieve. College is the time to take advantage of the endless opportunities presented. You might make mistakes, and it might feel like you can’t recover, but Hannah Montana once said, “Nobody’s Perfect” and if Miley Cyrus can go from that to swinging on a wrecking ball, then you can take college by storm without even trying that hard.