“This I believe” Rough Draft

As the song lyric from ‘Annie’ goes “You are never fully dressed without a smile.” Since I was a young girl, I have believed in the magic a smile can bring a person. Besides from instantly brightening a person’s day and changing any negative, unhappy feelings the person may be having, a smile is also one of the few things that can bring people together. The overall positivity this simple action can create inspired me to make an effort in making people smile at a very young age. When I was just three years old I would put on little homemade shows for my parents where I would dress up in different costumes and tell a bunch of horrible knock-knock jokes. Even if these shows were truly awful, each time I put one on my parents would smile and laugh encouraging me even more. I began to love the happiness that a smile or a laugh would elicit. From that time on, I swore I would grow up to be a comedian because then my job would consist of making people laugh and smile all the time.

However that didn’t end up happening. Instead, in my sophomore year of high school, as I was becoming less interested in being a comedian and more interested in being a psychologist, I came across a psychology fact that was particularly unsettling. The fact stated that for the average person it takes about seven positive thoughts to negate one negative thought. As a teenager, a time synonymous with self doubt and low self esteem, this troubled me. How was I supposed to reverse these negative thoughts about myself with seven positive thoughts when I found it troubling thinking positively to begin with? My train of thought quickly shifted to my friends and other people I knew. If they were experiencing the same situation as me then they too must find difficulty in positive thinking. This reignited within me the passion I had as a little girl in making people smile. I soon made it a personal goal of mine to help combat people’s own negativity by spreading positivity. I accomplished this by complimenting someone at least once a day. The compliment could be on anything: their hair, their makeup, their nails, a story they might have told, or a picture they drew, or even the way they might have said something. I found anything and everything to compliment a person on. 

Years later, I still believe in the act of complimenting someone at least once a day because of the possible impact it might have. We never truly know what other people are going through in their personal lives and most of the time this is a result of our own doing. We often go throughout our day only worrying about ourselves, never anybody else. What I am going to do for dinner? Will I have time to meet with Jane next week? When is my next doctor’s appointment? To actually take the time out of our day to uplift someone else is rare. However, it shouldn’t be. If we begin displaying more kindness to one another through simple comments than our world will be a more loving place. Spreading positive thinking not only improves your own outlook on life, but also somebody else’s. In a time where the world seems more divided than ever, it is reassuring to be connected through a smile.


Ideas for Future Projects

For my “This I believe” project, I am having a bit of a struggle deciding on one specific belief of mine to choose as my topic. Although I have thought endlessly of what to do, I have still not come up with a definite answer. One of my ideas is to talk about how I believe in religion, but not the church. However I don’t think this qualifies, since in the rubric of the project it says we should state something we believe in, rather than something we don’t believe in. Another idea of mine was to talk about my philosophy of complimenting someone at least once a day. I have  read countless times that it takes a person at least seven compliments to negate a negative thought , so in sophomore year of high school I began complimenting someone at least once a day to hopefully make them feel better about themselves. I would compliment their hair, smile, outfit, a drawing of theirs, or even an essay they might have done, basically whatever came to mind to make them smile. One of my final ideas for this essay and podcast is to talk about my belief in the cliche statement of “stopping and smelling the roses”. Whether or not you take this statement literally, I feel that everybody should at least slow down from their busy lives a couple times a day and really take in their surroundings. But like I said, I am still deciding on what I should do exactly for this project.

For my Civic issues blog, I was really drawn towards the environment option, especially the climate change topic. I have always found the environment in its entirety fascinating, so I think this option would be the most fun for me to research and learn about. The other option that I found interesting was identities and rights. However, I wrote a lot about humans’ rights and the possibly freedoms that would be affected under our current President-elect last semester, so I feel as though I need a break from this topic.

As for my Passion blog, I intend to keep it the same. Last semester my Passion blog explored the details and the price range of different items on my bucket list. I really enjoyed learning the specifics of everything and I am more than perfectly fine with continuing it again this semester, since I still have a lot more items left to go. In addition to the topic of my Passion blog, I also intend to keep the content the same in each post. Meaning each post will consist of a bit of backstory to the item and why it is on my bucket list, the details of the specific item, and how much each aspect will cost me in the future.


TED Outline Format

  1. Oral Content
    1. Topic: Terrorism
    2. Purpose: Showcase the fear that has driven people to stereotype and criminalize innocent people
    3. Thesis Statement: The underlying fear citizens have that the United States will be subject to another 9/11 terrorist attack is damaging our relations with foreign countries and with the people in these countries. We, as a nation, need to conquer this fear by confronting it head on and taking the bold steps that actually address the issue rather than the idea.
  2. Introduction
    1. Attention Strategy/Orienting Material: Begin by playing a video of the intro theme of the show “Fear Factor”, a show that centered around contestants facing their fears both physically and mentally for a monetary prize
      1. Although this showcases an extreme dramatization of people’s fears in the form of entertainment, we all, as people, biologically fear certain things such as spiders, heights, death, rollercoasters, clowns, etc.
        1. Raise the question: When has the last time any of you have confronted your fears? When has our government?
  3. Body
    1. Main Idea: Through fear we dismiss and avoid our true problems, but when we conquer them, or at the least confront them, we are able to
      1. Support: Northwestern University Phobia Research
        1. Specific Support: After exposing participants who had a severe phobia of spiders to a tarantula for an interactive two-hour session, researchers found that just this one positive exposure to the spider had lasting effects in these people with arachnophobia for six months
        2. Specific Support: According to one of the key researchers, the success was in result of “this idea that you slowly approach the thing you’re afraid of.”
          1. “They learned that the spider was predictable and controllable, and by that time, they feel like it’s not a spider anymore.”
        3. Specific Support: The study sheds light on the brain responses to fear and the changes that happen when a fear is overcome
    2. Main Idea: Letting fear overtake our whole beings and our policies in government is preventing us from advancement
      1. Support: TED Talk by Jonathan Tepperman “The risky politics of progress”
        1. Specific Support: Canada becoming one of the world’s most welcoming, immigration-friendly nations today, after it abandoned its explicitly racist immigration policy
        2. Specific Support: Indonesia, which suffered a bigger problem involving Islamic extremism, was able to reduce terrorism and radical groups to unimaginable numbers
          1. By focusing on things like reducing poverty and cutting corruption they were able to steal the Islamists’ thunder
          2. They also cracked down hard on terrorism, by learning that repression only creates more extremism
  4. Conclusion
    1. Concluding Remark: As Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” We may be afraid now, but if we harness this fear in a positive, motivating way we can take the bold steps to address the issue that is terrorism
  5. Visual Content
    1. Slide One
      1. “Fear Factor” Intro theme video on YouTube
    2. Slide Two
      1. Collage of pictures with common fears
    3. Slide Three and all the slides following
      1. (Still deciding)

The Circle Blog 5

The classic villain and hero story is one that has been told countless times throughout all of literature. The story often starts with the hero currently struggling to save the town, people, or even themselves from the dangers of the villain. Only to be able to overcome everything and save everyone at the very end of the story where he or she then assumes his or her hero role. Or on the rare occasions, the hero is unable to defeat the villain and instead suffers a devastating loss in the story. Either way, in novels the main characters are typically already seen as either a hero or a villain, never both.

But how is this so? The terms villain and hero can be very broad and to define a complex character by these vague groups seems unfair. So then what makes a person a hero or a villain? Is it their their actions or words? How much comes from inner predisposition? Is someone obliged to become a hero or villain by virtue of their existence, or are heroes and villains molded over time? These in depth questions were taking into consideration by the The New York Times when they reviewed the novel The Circle. In their review, The New York Times contends that, in the end, “Mae, then, is not a victim but a dull villain.” Thus, implying that the evils that the Circle were doing throughout the book had such an effect on Mae, that she, herself, starting becoming corrupt. This complete transition The New York Times is referring to can be seen in the last few pages of the novel when Mae makes the claim that “the world deserve[s] nothing less” than complete transparency.

Many, like myself, were unhappy with the way The Circle ended. Mae completely succumbing to the Circle’s advancements with information and data collection was completely shocking. Up until that point, even though Mae had made drastic changes in her life with social media, there was still a slight chance she could go back on everything she ever did. She could have stopped using social media and begin to repair the relationships with her family and friends she once had. Even more so, after Ty had given her a message to read to her viewers that could have potentially slowed down Completion. However, Egger’s surprising ending doesn’t allow that to happen. The ending differed because rather than Mae seeing the severity of the situation at hand she instead thinks about how Completion promises unity and the end of all uncertainty. What is most disturbing about the ending is Mae’s final thoughts. The novel ends with Mae viewing Annie’s private thoughts and feelings as a selfish annoyance, despite the fact that Annie is in a coma after participating in that experiment. These final thoughts in the clinic betray how far her Circle mentality has been ingrained within her. It showcases that Mae is and can no longer be the hero of the story, but rather a dull villain.

Paradigm Shift Ideas

A paradigm shift describes the fundamental change in an individual’s or societal’s view of how something works in the world. However simple this definition seems, the concept of a paradigm shift can be quite complex. In addition to it just being a fundamental change that has evolved in meaning, a paradigm shift also incorporates intricate details of futurology, methodology, epistemology, and even values and ethics. All of these components help to broaden the topic of a paradigm shift through internal analysis by asking questions like where is the topic headed, who decided what was true or false, and or how does this topic form our view. The additional pieces, as a result, make it difficult for me to come up with an idea for the paradigm shift paper. Although I do have a few in mind, it is still a work in progress.

My first idea is the topic of terrorism. More specifically, the shift of view on terrorism throughout the years and how nowadays even Syrian refugees fleeing absolute destruction and disarray are seen as potential security threats. In my paper, I hope to explore some of the contextual explanations as to why many American citizens feel so threatened by terrorism and how their fears reflect on their attitudes towards others. I noticed that Penn State has a lot of political science classes on international relations and even a class on the politics of terrorism, so I thought as a part of my research for this topic I could contact the professors of these classes and get their professional opinions on why they think there has been a shift in terrorism. As well as, how they have seen this shift manifest itself in politics like with treaties, policies, etc.

My second idea is on the shift of sex and promiscuity in American society. Specifically focusing on how the openness of sex has also led to the openness of sexual orientation and sexual identity. In my paper, I was going to discuss how the sexual revolution back in the 1960s is still having an effect on today’s society and attitudes. I will admit, this topic isn’t nearly as developed and structured as the first, which is why I am leaning more towards terrorism, but I still feel like this could be an interesting paper to write. Like I said, everything is still a work in progress!

The Circle Blog 4

No matter what political party you affiliate with or whether you are voting for a Republican, Democratic, or Third-Party candidate on Election day, one thing we can all agree on is how stressed the importance of this year’s election was. Since the candidates first started campaigning almost eighteen months ago, it is all anybody ever talks about. The presidential race is being brought up on virtually every platform there is; from newspapers, to magazines, to the Internet, to TV shows, to even here on campus. For two months straight, I, like everyone else, was asked about five times a day if I was registered to vote. Everywhere we look, we are constantly being bombarded with information about the election of 2016. Even more so, now that the election is only 21 days away. There are commercials and ads on around the clock reminding us to register to vote and head out to the polls on Election Day. The election has become so prominent in our society that when the topic of voting and its significance were first mentioned in the novel The Circle I was not surprised at all.

The mention of voting comes at a critical point within the story where many changes are occurring in the characters, specifically Mae. By this point, Mae is almost completely under the Circle’s control. She has been slowly transforming into being like the rest of her Circle coworkers by abiding to many of the company’s rules and regulations. For example, she is much more involved with documenting her life on social media than she was at the beginning of the story. So much so, that she has begun wearing a camera pendant to record all of her actions to show to the public. The clarity and sense of betterment she feels about herself after making these changes encourages her to begin proposing ideas to further enhance the outside world with the Circle’s presence. Some of Mae’s ideas include full transparency for every person on the planet by requiring everybody to have a Circle account and making Circle accounts have a role in monetary transactions, along with other personal information such as credit cards to provide for easy, accountable payment methods, minimizing fraud. Mae also pursued this direction of transparency and full access in her proposal that national voting be done through an app – later called Demoxie. The voting app suggested that everybody could be held accountable to vote since it already played such a huge role in everyday life.

This line of pursuit Mae is proposing to make everything, including the ability to vote, revolve around having a Circle account becomes known as “closing the Circle” in the novel. Although this idea of “closing the Circle” had already been a simmering prospect among the Circlers, the strive to make the Circle an all-encapsulating method for practically all elements of society is heightened with Mae’s endorsement. With this, the Circle is able to allow for more elaborate, regulative movements on what is going on in the outside world through data collection. To Mae, her actions seem to be making huge steps towards the future, while, in reality, her ideas are only carrying out the societal changes that The Circle’s monopolization depends on.

The Circle Blog 3

As mentioned in previous posts, in the novel The Circle technology plays a key role in the dystopian society. The company and its many employees use technology as a means to gain extensive information about the outside world. The information they gain is then often used strategically to gain power over the masses. This personal power the Circle has is evident throughout the story, as many employees and other Circlers just succumb to the rules of the company by ditching their personalities and livelihoods. Rather than carrying out their lives unaccompanied by the Circle and its presence, citizens willingly let the company into their lives and intervene as much as necessary.

Mae is a prime example of this process on a person. When she first started at the company the Circle, she was aware of herself and her defining traits. She was fascinated with the social media that was highly valued in the company, but it clearly wasn’t valued that much in her own life. However, as Mae rose in the ranks at the company, she slowly began to lose her unique personality and become one with the company. In addition to her losing her identity, she also began to lose many of her outside relationships as she became more and more like a robot. Within the story, the character Mercer points out Mae’s superficiality and how she has changed so much since joining the company. Mercer describes her at one point as one of the Circle clones saying that she has become “incredibly boring” now. However Mae is unable to make this distinction that is so obvious to Mercer, to her everything is the same. The separation she once had from the virtual world to the real world is no longer apparent in her life. Her dependency on social media has taken over her life, altering the world around her.

This virtual utopian world The Circle has created that eventually becomes Mae’s new reality can be seen happening in our world today. The sense of distinction between real life and simulated life is becoming increasingly smaller in today’s culture with the many developments and advancements of technology. Although the world and its many citizens have thrived off the advantages of technology, virtually everyone has become too dependent on its easiness and the many services it provides us with. Despite the belief that certain generations are more reliant than others, in actuality people of all ages rely on technology and the Internet to a certain degree.

A piece of technology that epitomizes the decreasing division between what is really and what isn’t is the three-sixty glasses that have been released in the market the past couple of years. These virtually reality headsets provide consumers with the ability to become total immersed into whatever video, game or app they are using. The headsets make the virtual reality experience so real that the user often forgets the computer, headgear and accessories and act exactly as they would in the real world. This step into making the virtual world seem more like the real world is a slippery slope for society. As seen in the novel, once you become accustomed to the false reality that it provides it becomes harder and harder for you to distance yourself from it.

Civic Artifact Essay Outline

Although my civic artifact is the infinity symbol and how it functions rhetorically and civically in society, for my essay I will focus less on this and more on other topics. As a continuation of my speech, I would like to delve more into the stigmas that often surround “girl-related” things in my civic artifact essay. In my speech, I mentioned that in addition to the infinity symbol other things such as taking a selfie or buying Starbucks often comes with a negative connotation in our society. Women who participate in these trends or even like these types of things are frequently shamed and are seen as having a lower intelligence.

The beginning of my essay will basically begin with the ending of my speech. I will refresh the reader with how the infinity symbol acts in our civic life and how it is seen as a symbol of hope and love within the female community. From there, I will introduce the stigma that is currently seen around the symbol and try to come up with explanations as to why that might be. I will then continue on with my essay by introducing the second civic artifact that correlates with my first civic artifact. For my second civic artifact I am thinking about doing selfies and how they too are stigmatized in our society. Although I am not completely certain this will be my second civic artifact, I do, however, want to compare how these two items’ attitudes have evolved after being adopted by women. I find all too often that the things embraced by women are more subject to mockery and are considered to be less important than the things enjoyed by men. Going off that point, I intend to finish up my civic artifact essay by questioning our current civic lifestyle that continually sets a double standard for what is and what isn’t acceptable in society. Thus, concluding my civic artifact essay about the various stigmas surrounding generally female-liked items.


The Circle Blog 2

Today, technology and its endless advancements in society are more vital than ever before. Everything revolves around technology, so much so, that without it many of the processes we take for granted wouldn’t function properly. Social media is at the center of this all. The emergence of social media in the past two decades has completely changed our way of common communication. With the few clicks of a button we can update the world about where we are, what we are doing, and even what we are thinking about. As a result, social media has become the driving force in our generation, it is what intertwines our lives with the lives of other people around the globe. Through social media, we are able to stay in touch with people that we would have otherwise forgotten and connect with people we would have otherwise never met.

Connection and availability serve as the fundamental keys in all of social media. It is with our connection to these websites that we become a part of civic life. In the novel The Circle, which takes place in a futuristic society, connection also plays an essential role in society as seen in lines such as “We consider your online presence to be integral to your work here. It is all connected,” (96). This reinforces the idea that to Circlers a person’s civicness is focused around his or her online activity. The important connection the company has with their employees and the outside world establishes a relationship between the two concepts of data and privacy. The relationship these two common themes have within the book are interdependent of each other.

As seen throughout the novel, the company is dedicated to the collection of data. There is practically nothing the company doesn’t collect. From the hidden cameras located around the campus to collect and record the employees involvement to the obtainment of health records and other documentation on all of the employees, just showcases the severity and intensity The Circle has in compiling data about their company. The sheer amount of data the company is willing to collect correlates to their belief on the idea of privacy. To virtually all members at the Circle community privacy is extremely selfish. In the line, “You realize that community and communication come from the same root word, communis, Latin for common, public, shared by all,” demonstrates this ideology that secrets and other hidden information are not accepted (96).

While reading this section of the novel, the connection between the importance of data and privacy to the Circlers strongly reminded me of the song “Fingerprint File” by the Rolling Stones. Although the song was first released in 1974, it is still prevalent both in today’s society and in The Circle’s modern one. The song first gained a lot of attention with the media for the song portrays the paranoia surrounding the government and an individual’s privacy. The lyrics reveal this underlying feeling of never being safe from the government, for they are always watching. It initiates a deep rooted fear into the listeners that no matter what they do, they can’t escape from the government’s track on them.

This belief the Rolling Stones had of our government and their constant watch of us is exemplified through The Circle’s desire to know everything about everyone in the novel. Through the constant monitoring and recording of the employees, The Circle makes sure they are never truly alone. Many of the subliminal messages in the rules and codes that the Circle enforces in their company condemn the freedom of privacy. As seen in the first section of the book, quotes like “All that happens must be known,” (68) instills the idea that nothing can remain a secret, everything must be shared. The actions the company takes to ensure that nothing is being hidden from them reflects the very fears the Rolling Stones had with our government back in 1974.

The relationship data and privacy have in this section of the Circle seems to be a reoccurring theme in the novel. Due to the distaste of secrets, the company continually collects large amounts of data on their employees and also their customers so that no secrets may occur. A person’s privacy, as a result, is virtually no existent in the Circle community. This connection between data and privacy links to the idea that with the advancement of technology in our civic life, people will have to become more inclined with the fact that nothing they “own” is safe from unwarranted searches. With the continual growth of social media, we might face a Circle situation in which we are no longer allowed to share parts of our lives through the occasional post, we must, instead, share everything.

Civic artifact outline

For a while I was deciding back and forth between the twelve, well now thirteen, zodiac signs or the infinity symbol. After much deliberation I have come to the conclusion of doing my civic artifact on the infinity symbol. The infinity symbol, which was for a majority of time just used in the mathematical sense, has become a symbol trending on many social media sites. It has been embraced by the Internet altering its definition to one of everlasting love, hope, and care.​

My speech will begin like many others with a very short history of the symbol. ​Until recently,​ ​​the infinity​ ​​symbol was a mathematical term meaning ​​a number greater than any assignable quantity, usually used in the topic of continuity.​ Although the definition of infinity has changed slightly from its original definition​,​ ​​components of the original are still prevalent in the new meaning for the new definition references feelings​​ of forever and limitless opportunities​. The symbol which is represented by a never-ending loop is seen as hopeful for many, specifically resonating with women on the internet.

Going off of this, I will continue my speech by bringing up how women from all over have taken the rhetorical meaning of the infinity symbol and incorporated into their civic life. The infinity symbol can be seen virtually everywhere nowadays. The symbol has become so mainstream it is plastered on almost every photo or artsy quote there is. As a result, the symbol has gotten some flack within certain communities. Much like the trend of taking a selfie after a memorable event, the speed that the infinity symbol became popular bothered some people. The popularity of the infinity symbol and anyone who enjoyed the trend was often criticized by the public, thus, resulting in a stigma around the symbol that lasts even today.