Advocacy Project – Redraft Standardized Testing

Topic: Standardized Testing K-12, Undergraduate Degrees, Graduate Degrees

Group Members: Rebecca Sellinger and Jessica Tatone

Our advocacy project questions the validity and effectiveness of standardized testing in various classroom settings for the purpose of measuring the students’ intellectual growth and retention. We believe that by requiring every school to proctor or accept one specific type of exam for all attending students, the students’ pressure to pass the test is much more potent than the students’ actual passion for learning and retaining the material. We will explore this issue for students of three general levels of education: Kindergarten – 12th Grade Students, Undergraduate Students, and Graduate Students. Although there must be a sufficient way to measure the amount of knowledge each student has attained, we will propose a plan to our policymakers that effectively describes the situation and offers possible additions or revisions that will ensure the students’ intellectual potentials are not suffocated by the stagnant expectations of government standards.


Deliberation Reflection

On Saturday, February 25, I attended a Deliberation entitled, “To Be or Not to Be: A Sanctuary City”.

The deliberation team conducted their deliberation on the pressing issue of illegal immigration and sanctuary cities. I felt the team provided a comprehensive overview of the topic, and effectively connected it to the Penn State community by mentioning the potential for Penn State to become a “Sanctuary Campus”.

We began the discussion by talking about the email sent by President Barron to the student body, declaring that illegal immigrants attending Penn State would still be considered students in the Penn State community, despite the negative sentiments put forth towards illegal immigrants by our current president, Donald Trump.

Their first approach was to address the legal aspects of sanctuary cities with respect to the past, current, and proposed immigration policies. We shared thoughts on the fine line between the extent to which federal laws could be nullified by the individual states and overruled, allowing the states to decide the particular issue of illegal immigrants themselves.

Then the discussion progressed to the existence of safe spaces on college campuses, Penn State in particular. We identified potential positive and negative outcomes due to the existence of these safe spaces or lack thereof. There was a general consensus to refrain from instituting a legitimate place designated as a “safe space”.

The final way the team approached this topic was through the idea of creating an education program at Penn State. This program would include important resources for illegal immigrants, such as their rights, as well as the rights of regular Penn State students.

I feel the deliberation was conducted very well, as I remained interested and attentive throughout the duration of the event. I learned a lot about the current issues when dealing with illegal immigration, and my eyes were opened to just how many people are affected, directly or indirectly, by this issue in the United States.

This I Believe Rough Draft

So my This I Believe speech took a very wide turn from what I had previously chosen to talk about due to some sudden inspiration and reflection on how I truly feel about everything that’s been happening in the world recently.

I believe that despite all of the fractures that have spider-webbed across the soul of our nation throughout its existence and specifically considering these past few months, at its core, my country – the United States of America – is still determined to uphold the virtues and beliefs on which it was founded by having given the true power of action to its citizens.

Two hundred forty-one years ago, this nation was established with the belief that through hard work and cooperation, freedom from oppression can one day become attainable for everyone. Although there is substantial proof this has not always been carried out in practice, the essence of this conviction can still be seen within the rich history of the American people. My words cannot begin to express the deep pride I feel every day as a citizen of this country that has positively impacted the lives of countless individuals, both at home and abroad.

However, I feel a great responsibility hovering over present-day Americans like myself, urging me to live up to these expectations and become a real-life example of empathy and resilience. To me, being an American means inheriting the duty to uphold the legacy of my country’s founding fathers by protecting individual liberties, preserving justice, and essentially building a better life for myself and my fellow citizens. This certainty that the rights to which we are entitled as members of a free nation – and more importantly, humanity – must be defended blazes in the hearts of American citizens and most definitely in my own. America is a nation of opportunity, perseverance, and most of all, hope. It is a nation in which we are free to speak our minds and advise those who stand for tyranny or corruption that neither will be tolerated here. I believe that the United States of America has been and will always be a shining beacon of hope in the dismal sea of subjugation and desolation that plagues the world because of the fortitude and understanding shown by its citizens.

*This is a very rough version of the final speech, and several changes to word choice and idea focus will be made at a later time.

Ideas for Spring Semester Blogs…

Two This I Believe Ideas

I believe that being humble does not mean being insecure about oneself.

My first possible topic deals greatly with the idea that while humility is generally a quality I try to emulate in my overall presence and actions, I have instead seen the dreaded appearance of insecurity more often than was ever necessary in a multitude of instances throughout my life. I will tell the story of my frequent attempts to belittle or ignore my actual strengths and successes in lieu of a focus on everything about myself that does not live up to someone’s or my own expectations. In fact, choosing to focus entirely on the areas in which I am the least successful in a way goes against the whole concept of being humble. I believe the purpose of humility is to put others’ needs before one’s own, to make sure others are taken care of, but not at the expense of one’s self-confidence and intuition.

Everyone deserves a second (and third, and even fourth) chance.

Yes, I know it’s kind of cliche, but another idea I was considering is that of second chances. This is a concept that is new to no one – how often has someone hurt us (or been hurt by us), and yet we find that after much thought and consideration (some requiring more than others), we are able to “forgive and forget”? I will be the first person to admit that I have made many mistakes in my life and in doing so, I have hurt many people (whether intentionally or as simply collateral damage). And in these instances, I have realized the value of forgiveness and how this gift is the exact kindness that goes beyond the moment and sticks with the recipient longer than the provider could have ever imagined.

Two Civic Issues Blog Ideas

Different kinds of music/songs influence and become society’s most potent voice.

Music has been around for millennia, and the variations of type, style, tone, etc. are infinite. In this blog I will analyze the time period of particular genres of music or popular songs. By using rhetoric devices, I will also uncover how the people both making and consuming this music use its power to emphasize certain aspects of society and hopefully enlighten the reader on how much influence this form of art truly has over the masses. I will also address the inevitable appearance of opposition to the changes in popular music and how that might have affected civic interaction.

The Environment: Water

I have always been a great appreciator of nature, but typically in the most passive sense of the phrase. I recycle (most of the time), and I do not go out of my way to waste natural resources. Living in a plentiful area within the United States all of my life, I have been fortunate enough not to know what it’s like to be lacking a major resource, such as water, and as my knowledge of the world has expanded drastically within the past few years, I would really like to hopefully learn how to maintain and expand it’s availability to other areas in need throughout the planet both now and in the future. I will look into current issues with water availability and the different debates and problems that have arisen or that could potentially develop because of the current resources that are accessible to certain nations.

Passion Blog Goals/Ideas

I am going to stick with my original Passion Blog idea, “History is Happening”, although this semester  I will add a few more insightful connections to today’s world and the events that are shaping history as we live through it today.

Ted Talk Outline

Alright, so my paradigm shift has shifted a little bit since I last proposed the idea.

Originally, I had wanted to focus on STEM field education and how it has become one of the top priorities of the U.S. Because of this focus, people have been gently steered away from non-STEM subjects such as history or literature due to the available positions in the job market, or lack there of such jobs.

However, after doing some research, I am changing my thesis to include the shift of education itself throughout its existence and particularly how it went from originally being a key to an individual’s survival, completely based on the individual to obtain and use properly, to something that our superiors and government has considered and taken over, now requiring individuals to meet certain standards in our school systems and influencing our children to follow certain career paths that ultimately will contribute to the power, wealth, and international notoriety of the country itself.

So basically, education has changed from an individual focus to a collective, “how can I better society” focus.

Now for the outline!

**Note: I still need to work out the kinks and cite all my sources… will update when completed.**


*First Slide*

Image result for education

  • Education. That’s why we’re all here, at college, isn’t it? To receive an education in a field we’re most passionate about, and someday, hopefully, we’ll be able to make a living in that field doing what we love every single day…
  • What is education? Different ways of defining it, understanding it, etc.

*Second Slide*

Image result for evolution

  • Take a historical approach – education is a result of cognitive evolution.
  • For our nomadic ancestors, education meant discovering things about one’s environment through personal experience with hands-on situational learning that, in some cases, may have been the difference between life and death.
  • The things learned were very applicable to daily life – immediate use of knowledge such as which plants are poisonous when eaten, touched, etc.
  • No need for writing, reading, history, mathematics — not relevant to the lifestyle.
  • Everything a person learned was completely up to the child’s parents or environment, and only the immediately useful information was stored and passed along.


  • Eventually, nomadic lifestyles gave way for agrarian cultures to settle on the land and create communities that would be built to last for centuries.
  • People now had the luxury of consistent food, water, and shelter sources and could focus their time and energy on thought and written word – and education
  • Ancient Greece and Rome – well known for their philosophical and mathematical contributions to society [will expand on this]
  • Still, education was relatively informal, skills and trades were more highly regarded because of useful production of tools


  • Elizabethan era — allows for the arts to flourish [will expand on this]
  • European colleges and universities [expand on this]
  • Centuries pass; formal education is available to society’s elite and wealthy, until…

*Third Slide*

Image result for thomas jefferson

  • Key Player in significant education reform : Thomas Jefferson [expand on Notes on Virginia]
  • First instance of consistent ideas for education – included reading, writing, history, math, etc.

*Fourth Slide*

Image result for 1800 education

  • As new scientific discoveries were made, education was changed to accommodate these findings and to make sure that students were being taught the most widely-accepted, accurate information
  • School systems still emerging, not entirely standardized education, farming still a largely popular occupation
  • WWII highlighted the importance of a country’s ability to technologically advance faster than other nations in order to be a decent source of competition for power
  • Post-WWII – Tensions increase as U.S. and U.S.S.R. prepare to enter the Cold War

*Fifth Slide*

  • MAJOR SHIFT: Sputnik
  • Sputnik launched a huge movement toward STEM fields in order for the U.S. to be able to compete with the Soviet Union in defensive and offensive tactics, sustainability, and overall achievement for humankind
  • This sparked a push for STEM fields that the government has been trying for decades to get their citizens interested in, from offering scholarships to minorities, to highlighting the economic opportunity in the job market vacancies
  • These incentives function as great motivators for the individuals, but the ulterior motive to education’s promotion of STEM (and now STEAM, which includes Art and design) is the government’s knowledge that the more people are educated in STEM fields, the “greater” their contribution to society will be.

Still a work in progress, and I have to figure out how to wrap up the talk in my conclusion, but this is basically the general idea of my Ted Talk.

Please let me know if anything comes across as unclear or if you think I could add something in particular!

The Circle: Blog 5

Ever the critic, Mercer identifies a “new neediness” in our social-media-driven culture. Offer your interpretation of the causes of such neediness, drawing examples from the text and perhaps from contemporary culture.

Never before in the history of humankind have individuals fallen prey to a dependence on technological tools that stems from an internal psychological state such as that which is depicted in The Circle. This need for social media interaction is demonstrated in The Circle and recognized by the character named Mercer, who flatly labels the rising issue as it is and calls out Mae for succumbing to its power. Most of the other members of society label Mercer as a social pariah, an outsider who, in choosing nonconformity, is eventually hunted down and literally driven out of the new society they have created. This neediness that has gradually, almost silently, developed poses a great threat to the functionality of society as a whole, as well as to individual freedoms that people often take for granted.

Novel technological innovations have always proven to be more interesting than previous devices or methods of doing something, and this is obvious because of human beings’ natural attractions to unknown stimuli in order to fulfill their curiosity. However, in the case of modern technology, exploration and curiosity have given way to habituation and dependence, causing formerly new concepts to be transformed into expected occurrences that should be available at all times. This need comes in the form of social media.

With the development of social media sites and applications came the beginning of an era where people could “publicly” express their personal opinions or belief and receive feedback almost instantly. It is also a convenient, reliable way of communicating with other people, and it simplifies the ability to reach out to others who one might normally not ever be able to contact otherwise. However, as Mae frequently recognized, not all people are reachable at the exact moment she wanted to contact them. At different times, Mae often tries to contact her parents, who give cease to contact her because of her obvious obsession with her online presence, her friend Annie, who refuses to talk with her after the two have a fight, and a man named Kalden, who frequently is unavailable or even nonexistent according to the Circle’s search tools (Eggers 196). Mae’s compulsion is essentially to obtain the knowledge that, although she certainly feels entitled to have, she actually does not have any right to receive. Mercer realized this odd obsession that not only Mae, but also other members of the society have with other people’s lives. The feeling of obligation to reply to, comment about, or even check up on everyone else’s posts about their lives comes with the over-exaggerated belief that one’s virtual activity is essential to things happening in the rest of the world.

When these communication abilities first were introduced, the world seemed like a massive place and people were simply just small beings who were basically irrelevant in society. People felt that their opinions were unimportant and overlooked – until the birth of global communication abilities through social media. Now people all over the world can chime into conversations and feel like their input is welcome and even critical to the conversation’s flow. This feeling of purpose feeds into the psychological mindset that places constant communication using theses devices on the pedestal of human contact and personal expression.

This social media world in which we and the people of The Circle live has created a detrimental obsession, a crutch of dependence on a form of communication that, although in many ways is extremely helpful, has evolved into an internal need for constant attention and feedback that has planted itself in the minds of today’s citizens.

Paradigm Shift Idea

The Transition to STEM; The Loss of Substance

My paradigm shift idea kind is something like: how changes in society have led public education systems away from non-technical education and more towards STEM fields.

But I want to highlight the importance of non-technical education and how it contributes to retaining the true essence of humanity.

I’m honestly not entirely sure how I’m going to fit everything together, so this outline is just the rough, beginning phase of my idea.

And of course, as this is just a general outline, the future drafts of my topic will contain more concrete ideas that are supported by thorough research.

Individuals to analyze that are most affected include:

  • Children – the ones actually learning about the subjects, really have no say in what information they’re being taught simply because of youthful ignorance
  • Parents – have the ability to teach/promote different subjects at home to help a child develop an interest in a subject, influence behavior and certain opinions about topics
  • Instructors – actually have to carry out the curriculum and are the ones who give students the information about a topic, don’t necessarily have to agree with what they teach but are educated themselves (based on different standards because of differences in education standards and priorities in the past)
  • Employers – expect employees to be educated on specific topics relative to the job, depending on what it is
  • Lawmakers/public servants – actually set the education standards and the ones who prioritize what kind of information is most important for the youth to receive
  • Society itself – the kind of education children receive contributes to their views on life and how they will act as members of society

Characterize the ideology or worldview before:

  • The public school education system placed a relatively equal emphasis on all school subjects, whether technical or non-technical, in order to provide for and develop the most well-rounded young adults possible.

Characterize the ideology after:

  • With more emphasis placed on STEM fields, more children will be likely to enter into fields that promote scientific research, discovery, and development, thus contributing to the U.S.’s world standing as one of the most technologically advanced countries. (Meanwhile, non-technical fields such as history, literature, art, etc. are pushed to the back burner and labeled as unimportant, or at least, significantly less important to the betterment of society as a whole.)

What markers can you point to as evidence of the shift?

  • There is an overwhelming increase of STEM courses available to young students, greater opportunity in the job market, and some, if not all, of the highest paying jobs are in STEM fields.

What resistance is evident? 

  • Those who find great interest in non-technical occupations such as history, teaching, writing, cooking, etc. And even those who, though they may be successful in STEM fields, choose to create hobbies that promote those areas.

What is the shift a response to? 

  • The gradual shift has occurred in order to promote a new generation of individuals who can compete with some of the most gifted scientific minds globally, particularly in regions of the world in which the study of STEM fields is already being pushed to its maximum ability.

Who or what was key in moving the shift forward?

  • The creation of new technology, new jobs, higher paying jobs, global competition, scientific discovery, national security, loss of interest in the non-technical, etc.

What conditions didn’t exist that came to exist that made the shift possible?

  • International competition between nations for different kinds of resources, weapons, technology, knowledge, etc.; The technologic capabilities that contributed to the possibility of studying STEM fields at the level which they are being studied, the general “irrelevance” of history, the “novelty” of innovation, communication – being able to spread knowledge quickly and conveniently, government funding, etc.

Beyond their simple existence, which of these played a more direct role in advancing the paradigm?

  • Funding – public schools cannot operate with a workable amount of money to run certain programs, and when there is not enough, the programs that often get cut first are not STEM courses
  • Competition – every individual who takes in a STEM field is able to produce something that can “contribute” to a nation’s overall well-being or available resources that can be used against other nations whether as something to attract allies in times of necessary cooperation or as a method of protection in times of war. Either way, it’s better for one nation to have something innovative that another country does not have, in order to be “one step ahead” of the rest of the world. STEM fields provide the foundations for that kind of thinking, whereas non-technical fields apparently do not. (I will try to research oppositions to this view.)
  • Technological capability – never before has technology been at such a level of capability that entire subjects and subcategories of subjects are able to be thoroughly studied and innovated. Current technology permits further study and allows an emphasis to be placed on the idea of constant study and gaining understanding.

The Circle: Blog 4

Write a 500-word post on the topic of your choice.

In a world where knowledge is everything, analysis and understanding are the purposes of all activity, and life itself is driven by the ideal that “all that happens must be known”, there is one occurrence that Mae Holland cannot seem to understand, escape, or even seem to mention to anyone else – “the tear” (Eggers 197). This internal tearing Mae feels represents her torn feelings on having too much or not enough knowledge.

Mae begins to feel the “black rip” inside her chest shortly after her first encounter with Kalden, and it apparently makes a regular appearance several times per week as the length of time spent without information on Kalden’s whereabouts increases (Eggers 197). In these instances of internal despair, Mae is confounded at the mysterious aura Kalden possesses and valiantly attempts to contact him through all of the conventional methods at the time such as CircleSearch and LuvLuv (Eggers 196). Her frustration envelopes her entire being in these brief moments as she realizes that she cannot have access to a particular type of information, and her mind is not able to function wholly, as her consciousness is momentarily obsessed with a sliver of information that is currently unavailable. However, millions of items of data are accessible to everyone at the type of a word or click of a mouse. Mae’s fixation on momentarily unattainable information resembles an instance in which a small child is in a room full of toys and yet its only desire is to receive a particular new toy in the shop that serves no particular purpose aside from satisfying its immediate desire. Instant gratification is no strange concept, especially to millennials; the convenience of information accessibility has influenced individuals’ capabilities to accept not having certain information, or rather, not being entitled to receive certain information. Mae faces this problem of previously having all the world’s knowledge at her fingertips, and yet her one burning question, “What is this Kalden guy’s story?” is unresearchable, and apparently, unanswerable. This “tear” she feels deep within her expresses her foundation of instant gratification splitting as she realizes the fact that there is some information she simply cannot have.

Conversely, the internal black rip that Mae feels represents an overload of knowledge and of the society itself. Leading up to the tear’s appearance, Mae is always faced with an instance of frustration and loneliness that results from lack of information about her loved ones, whether it is about Kalden, who has no reliable methods of communication, her parents, who eventually refuse to contact Mae or let her check up on them through their SeeChange cameras, or even Annie, who essentially ended all communications with her friend after the pair had had a fight. This lack of information causes Mae to internally spiral to a place of helplessness that can only be cured by social interaction with other people, acting as a reassurance of Mae’s premier social standing and reinforcement of the idea of instant gratification. Mae always turns to social media, to her followers, for support when her actual loved ones are unavailable. However, this massive audience to Mae’s social contribution, her constant flow of smiles, comments, and feedback to millions of others worldwide, actually contributes greatly to the tear itself. In addition to the feeling of despair that plagues Mae in these moments, she also hears the “screams of millions of invisible souls” (Eggers 197). The voices she hears cannot be explained, and even Mae herself does not mention this phenomenon to anyone else at the Circle simply because of its seeming abnormality. Then again, is it abnormal? The internal screaming is symbolic of the millions of items of irrelevant information floating around her consciousness with nowhere to go, nowhere to be released. They are transformed into loud voices to try to serve as a wake up call to Mae that there is too much information in her mind, generally unnecessary information that serves no applicable, constructive purpose. It is at these moments that is fact is presented to Mae in one of the most alarming ways, and she does recognize it to an extent. She notices the feeling and realizes it somewhat subsides when even more information is poured into her consciousness. These moments are recognizable as withdrawal symptoms similar to those a drug addict would face, although not necessarily as severe. Information, social media and virtually connecting to the rest of the world have become Mae’s drugs of choice, and she has no imminent desire to rehabilitate her  views on life.

Mae’s internal hole is a void that cannot be filled with everything she is desperately trying to put into it: knowledge. An excess of available information and withheld knowledge are both two devious factors that contribute to her frequent experience of overwhelming despair.

Civic Artifact Essay Rough Draft

Civic Artifact Rhetorical Analysis Essay

(Rough Draft):


The intricate costumes, haunting melodies, spectacular choreography, riveting dialogue, earth-rocking vocals, and valuable stories that together constitute the civic artifact of musical theatre create one of the greatest tools of civic engagement whose subliminal function of societal contribution often goes unrecognized in contemporary time. Once the curtain falls, however, and the starkness of reality sinks in, people are no longer seduced by the mere external attractiveness of the musical theatre experience.

Thesis: Once people take the time to look deeper into the minute aspects of a given musical, there is substantial evidence that this musical, whatever it may be, has several underlying purposes that contribute significantly to society.

  • Communication

Throughout the course of civilization, communication has been one aspect of civic engagement that has remained essential to daily life. The messages that are conveyed between individuals vary, just as the methods of communication used to spread the messages have evolved to reflect societal trends and the integration of new technology into common communication techniques. One such method of communication that has stood the test of time, although often underestimated, is musical theatre.

  • Ancient times – music was a form of expression

[Research about history? Citations?]

  • Express certain ideas or feelings about a topic

The underlying plot of a musical typically reflects the author’s opinion of a certain topic, as is mirrored in contemporary works of writing or expression. The ability of the actors and actresses to physically perform the story and bring these ideas to life adds a whole new layer of information and resonance to the audience’s understanding of the musical’s content. In certain musicals, the writers incorporate social topics that the performers interpret artistically, using their talents to essentially become key instruments in the way that the audience members themselves interpret the musical’s message.

  • Able to reach a mass audience

A musical’s role as a conductor of communication is only as effective as its audience’s ability to understand the content; therefore, although music itself is generally appealing to all audiences, some musicals express content that is not necessarily fit for audiences of certain maturity levels.

  • Able to re-tell classic stories with a “modern” twist – appealing to the audience through certain styles of music

Idea of association – a certain style of music paired with a particular topic cause the audience to then associate both the music with the topic, help to remember the story and the experience of seeing the musical itself

Not only do musicals act as communication tools, but they also function as rhetorical commonplaces.

  • Share ideas

Musical theatre is a field in which it is extremely rare to see one person put on a show completely independent of help from other individuals. Cooperation and teamwork is essential to understanding, developing, and executing a successful musical performance. Years of research, preparation, and idea refinement are essential among teams of people for a show to hold significant merit in the world of theatre. Seeing a musical as a member of the audience also grants an individual the opportunity to take part in this sharing of ideas by listening to what the actors are conveying during the performance.

  • Actors’, Writers’, musicians’, etc. talents

For a musical’s ability to function civically, the combination of talents provided by the writers, directors, producers, musicians, stage crew members, and actors themselves are essential. A show may spread the knowledge of a certain story, but it also brings everyone involved in its production together. Being a part of the team that puts on a large-scale event such as a musical allows each individual member to create something bigger than his/herself. It creates a feeling of community and inclusion into a society that values artistic expression in all forms and showcases a number of talents that otherwise would be simply uncultivated.

  • Common themes

Many musicals reflect ideals of society and topics that are potentially controversial or interesting to the intended audience. [Expand on this.]

  • Feelings – pathos

The ability of the audience to compare and contrast the music and the story’s plot points offers an opportunity for pathos to play a significant role in influencing the audience to view the musical in a certain way. [Expand on this.]

The actors themselves play key roles in determining the relationship between the audience and the emotions the writers and directors intended the audience to experience at different points in the show.

  • Popularity, ability to relate with others in the audience

When an individual chooses to see a musical, it is essentially because s/he wants to experience a night of fun entertainment, usually with one or more companions. This is because most musical are, from the superficial perspective, reliable sources of pure entertainment. The ridiculously complex dance numbers, the insanely powerful vocals, and the blissfully simple ability of the audience members to enjoy a night of sensory exposure provided by fellow human beings are all factors that contribute to a musical’s popularity. Also, in sharing the experience of a musical with the other members of the audience, a common subject of conversation becomes instantly available to everyone in attendance, thus bringing individuals closer together as members of the same society.

  • Physical commonplace – a theater

In a more literal sense, musical theatre offers an opportunity to create an actual commonplace where individuals gather to share in the same experience of enjoying a performance; this commonplace is known as a theater or performing arts center.

[Historical aspect/function of theaters?]

Musicals are essentially calls to action

  • There can be found in almost every story an ulterior purpose or lesson that the author attempts to convey.
  • Nearly every musical in existence was once a story, historical occurrence, play, or any form of an idea that other individuals decided deserved stronger recognition than it was currently receiving.
  • The combination of all aspects of the typical musical – singing, dancing, and music – as well as the social awareness aspect leaves the audience with an unconscious desire to learn more about a certain story that resonates particularly strongly with each individual. [Expand on this.]


  • Restate basic ideas and thesis. [Expand on this.]

The Circle: Blog 3

The three ideas that were revealed following the incident involving Mae and the stolen kayak were discussed by Mae and Eamon Bailey and presented to the rest of the Circle employees. My personal beliefs contrast with these statements and suggestions; however, it is interesting to explore where these mantras originate and relate to contemporary society.

Secrets are Lies

Although this statement seems significantly extreme, the idea that secrets are lies stems from the notion that when information is withheld from others, the whole truth cannot possibly be known. To use Mae’s words, the information becomes, “a distorted and broken reflection” (Eggers 290) of what is actually occurring. For an issue or topic to be properly analyzed, the details of the entire situation must be available to truly promote understanding and avoid misconstrued assumption of facts (Eggers 299).

From a logical point of view, this theory does make sense in the real world; why would someone withhold a piece of information if not for the purpose of completing an act surreptitiously? Comparing the Circle to contemporary society, today secrets are also stigmatized with the connotation of suspicion, untrustworthiness, and insincerity. Nearly all of the world’s crime is done covertly, and the relationship between what constitutes a lie and what can be considered a simple gap between pieces of information has been debated for centuries.

Sharing is Caring

This mantra uses ethos to appeal to the audience’s emotions, which is especially evident when Mae nearly guilts the audience members into re-evaluating their contribution to their global community by saying, “If you care about your fellow human beings…their plight, their suffering, their curiosity…you share with them” (Eggers 304). The way this idea is phrased highlights the intended correlation between secrets and selfishness through the assumption that when an experience is withheld from others, those who withhold the information are doing so in order to exclude or reject others who did not share in the experience first hand (Eggers 303).

Children in today’s society are taught this simple rhyme, “Sharing is Caring”, with the expectation of grasping socially acceptable etiquette as it pertains to cooperating with others and sharing physical objects. The application of this phrase to how it is expressed in The Circle relates to today’s societal development in which the children who grew up learning to give to others, to share their toys, and to openly discuss how they feel are now becoming adults who are still striving to share what they know for the benefit of others. However, at what point does this constant output of information stop being an attempt to benefit other members of society and start being an outlet for instant gratification? An opportunity for people to feel important, like their voices matter and they are truly making a difference in people’s lives – when in reality no one even asked for their input, and the information is irrelevant, yet the individual still feels that sense of self-worth every time others comment, like, share, retweet, etc., and the individual then becomes dependent on the society created within the confines of a few earth minerals to the point where nothing can become accomplished because of the need to constantly relate to millions of others that “care” about the individual’s experiences.

Privacy is Theft

And finally, the origin of the idea that privacy is theft can be found in Mae’s opinion that, “It’s the natural state of information to be free” (Eggers 304). Mae goes on to say that we, as human beings are “obligated…to share what we see and know” with one another and that “all knowledge must be democratically accessible” (Eggers 304).

Information can be both definite and intangible in the way that it can be accessible through factual evidence, but only after thorough excavation and study of indefinite processes and experiences that were once unexplored aspects of the world in which we live. Do we, as human beings, have the right to access all information? Am I my brother’s keeper? When did the responsibility for knowing the minute details of our neighbors’ lives become thrust upon our shoulders? Is it our civic duty to make sure that everyone feels included in even virtual realities?

In any case, these three mantras offer ideas that are very relevant to today’s world and provide significant points that can lead to interesting conversations among individuals with different perspectives on the extent or limitations of privacy.