The Circle by Dave Eggers

What does this image by Ben Wiseman make you think of?

Ben Wiseman

You were born in a connected world.  What are the pros and cons of this?  Why do you think there are lots of people who are conservative on social media?  Do you share any of their fears or skepticism?

Why is there the desirability of making personal information public?

Look at the following three images:

What point do they make about the use of social media?  Where do you stand?  Are you dependent on technology or can you live disconnected/unplugged?

Can today’s online corporations, or the current surveillance scare, be compared to the real-world totalitarian forces (Nazi, Stalinist, Maoist) evoked by Nineteen Eighty-Four? Why (not)?

We are going to work on a book that takes into consideration the above issues.  The novel is “The Circle” by Dave Eggers.  It is a dystopian fictional work that looks at the world of social media not as a potential, but as an encroaching (= invadente) nightmare.

Before we start investigating the themes of the novel, I would like you to watch the following vlogger giving a review of the book.

Why do you think is the book disquieting? 

Why is it compared to “1984” by George Orwell? 

Technology is not evil per se, but the way it is used.  What “evil” use of technology is mentioned by the reviewer? 

Why is the book worth reading in his opinion? 

What was his gut reaction when he finished reading the book? 

Mention at least one positive aspect of this review and one aspect you did not appreciate at all.  If you were asked to create a video to review a book, what would you add (mention at least one element) that is not present in this video?

If you want to watch another video created by a bookworm who designed a webpage dedicated to reviews of books she read.

It would be interesting to know what aspects she mentions about The Circle that the other vlogger did not mention at all.

Did she like the book? Why (not)?

What are the parallels she can draw with our lives?

How many stars does she give The Circle?  Why?

In an interview Dave Eggers states that

“The Circle is about abuse of power. That’s one of the primary themes, at least. All the President’s Men is also about abuse of power, but that doesn’t make it an anti-government story. So I hope people see The Circle for what it is, which is a cautionary tale for how a monopolistic control over digital information, paired with a wholesale indifference to privacy, could lead to some very bad outcomes.”

When did you feel this warning became explicit and clear in the novel? Is there a passage in particular that made you realize that technology should be used with caution?

Mae Holland is a woman in her 20s who arrives for her first day of work at a company called the Circle.  She marvels at the beautiful campus and the services it offers.  The opening line in the book is “My God”, Mae thought.  “It’s heaven.”  But this heaven will soon become a hell.   The vast info-tech enterprise – the Circle – has amalgamated the functions of Microsoft, Google, Apple, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter into a unified corporation with seemingly beautiful ideals. Customers buy into the Circle with a single identity, their TruYou, which grants them access to every operation and social connection conceivable in the digital universe.

Within the organisation, a circle of bosses – the Gang of 40 – fuses technological and human rights idealism into a vision of perfect democracy, transparency and knowledge; one with which they aim to unite private and public spheres and perfect the operations of government.

The Orwellian references are made explicit in the Circle’s central slogan – “All that happens must be known”.  Mae rises through the ultra-meritocratic ranks of the company to emerge as its leading promotional light, devising some of the key maxims of its credo: “Secrets are lies”; “Sharing is caring”; “Privacy is theft”.  She ignores – increasingly obvious glimpses of what is wrong with all this.

What do you find wrong in all this?

One night, she takes a kayak ride to an uninhabited island, thus momentarily liberating herself from her hyper-connected world.  She will be forced to appear before the assembled staff of the Circle and confess her crime:  failing to stream her every private experience for the benefit of the community.

In atonement, she turns her life into a model of relentless visibility and her family’s into a version of The Truman Show. An ex-boyfriend provides speeches about the nightmare she is fostering, to which she responds by pursuing him through online networks as he seeks to escape to some non-mediated corner of wilderness.

It is not clear whether The Circle is intended as a satire of the present or a dystopian vision of the near future.  Some critics think it is a nicely caricatured vision of hi-tech, soft-touch totalitarianism.  What is your stance?  Can you substantiate your choice?

What would you do if you were plunged into a world where anonymity is banished?  Everyone’s past is revealed?  Everyone’s present may be broadcast live in video and sound?  Nothing recorded will ever be erased?  The Circle’s goal is to have all aspects of human existence (from voting to love affairs) flow through its only existing portal in the world.  Why should a world like this be invented?  For whose benefit?  Are there any aspect of this dystopian world that you find in your own world already?

Why are there more and more people who feel the drive to display themselves?  Why are our lives under the constant surveillance of our governments?

As the story advances, our view of the Circle moves from bright to dark to darker. At first, viewed through Mae’s eyes, the place seems wondrous:

The rest of America…seemed like some chaotic mess in the developing world. Outside the walls of the Circle, all was noise and struggle, failure and filth. But here, all had been perfected. The best people had made the best systems and the best systems had reaped funds, unlimited funds, that made possible this, the best place to work. And it was natural that it was so, Mae thought. Who else but utopians could make utopia?

But if this is utopia, why is Mae so anxious most of the time?

Margaret Atwood, in her review of the novel, writes that The Circle is in part a novel of ideas.

Do you agree? What sort of ideas?

The Canadian author goes on remarking:

Ideas about the social construction and deconstruction of privacy, and about the increasing corporate ownership of privacy, and about the effects such ownership may have on the nature of Western democracy. Dissemination of information is power, as the old yellow-journalism newspaper proprietors knew so well. What is withheld can be as potent as what is disclosed, and who can lie publicly and get away with it is determined by gatekeepers: thus, in the Internet age, code-owners have the keys to the kingdom.

Can you paraphrase this idea of hers? 

She continues by saying:

Some will call The Circle a “dystopia,” but there’s no sadistic slave-whipping tyranny on view in this imaginary America: indeed, much energy is expended on world betterment by its earnest denizens. Plagues are not raging, nor is the planet blowing up or even warming noticeably. Instead we are in the green and pleasant land of a satirical utopia for our times, where recycling and organics abound, people keep saying how much they like each another, and the brave new world of virtual sharing and caring breeds monsters.

What do you think of her not defining the novel a dystopia?

The tiny “SeeChange” cameras that can be planted everywhere (no more rapes and atrocities!), the scheme to embed tracking chips in children’s bones (no more kidnapping!). Why wouldn’t any sane person want those things? People who live in glass houses not only shouldn’t throw stones—they can’t throw them! Isn’t that a good thing? And if you have nothing to hide, why get paranoid?

Both the reader and Mae encounter the Circle first through its logo, which is obligingly depicted on the book’s cover and then described through Mae’s eyes: “Though the company was less than six years old, its name and logo—a circle surrounding a knitted grid, with a small ‘c’ in the center—were already the best-known in the world.” Looked at by someone unfamiliar with it, the logo would surely suggest a manhole cover. I certainly hope Eggers intended this: as a flat disc, the thing might imply a moon or a sun or a mandala—something shining and cosmic and quasi-religious—but as a portal to dark, sulphurous, Plutonian tunnels it is much more resonant.

The circle motif may be Eggers’s wink at Google’s “Circles,” a way of arranging your contacts on its counterpart to Facebook: but it’s much more than that. The circle is an ancient symbol that’s had a variety of incarnations. There are divine circles—the Egyptian sun, the vision of the poet Henry Vaughan, who “saw Eternity the other night,/Like a great ring of pure and endless light”; in case we overlook the point, inside Eamon Bailey’s private lair is a stained glass ceiling with “countless angels arranged in rings.” Bailey himself weighs in on circles: “A circle is the strongest shape in the universe. Nothing can beat it, nothing can improve upon it, nothing can be more perfect. And that’s what we want to be: perfect.” A man with Bailey’s Catholic background should know that he’s verging on heresy, since perfection belongs to God alone. He ought to know also that circles can be demonic: Dante’s Inferno has nine circles. Maybe he does know those things, but has discounted them.

Margaret Atwood concludes her review of the novel with the following paragraph:

Publication on social media is in part a performance, as is everything “social” that human beings do; but what happens when that brightly lit arena expands so much that there is no green room in which the mascara can be removed, no cluttered, imperfect back stage where we can be ‘“ourselves”? What happens to us if we must be “on” all the time? Then we’re in the twenty-four-hour glare of the supervised prison. To live entirely in public is a form of solitary confinement.

What is the point of this in your opinion?

Do you think that one day our privacy might be entirely compromised and we might end up pawns of an omniscient machine?

Wesley Merritt

Now read some parts taken from an interview to Dave Eggers and see whether is answers can help you hone your response to the novel.

Dave Eggers explains how technology and privacy inspired The Circle, his new novel

Tell us about the technology known as SeeChange – can cameras replace consciences?

After the Boston Marathon bombings, the city’s surveillance cameras made it possible to identify the suspects a few days later. That was astounding, and public-opinion surveys indicated that most people would far prefer to have ubiquitous cameras – knowing they would be watchable any time they were in public – if it ensured some increased degree of safety or, in the case of the Boston bombings, accountability. Those poll numbers surprised a lot of privacy experts. And of course London is saturated with cameras too. In cities with ubiquitous camera coverage, there’s a hope, I think, that if you know you’re being watched, criminal behaviour will be deterred. SeeChange takes it further. Can we all become more moral beings if we think anyone – not just authorities, but anyone at all – is watching at any time? The Circle says and hopes that through self-monitoring, SeeChange can help perfect the human race.

Wesley Merritt

Can tracking save lives, or is it likely to destroy them?

It’s capable of both.

When do humans become not-human?

There are some devices out there or on the way that make the user look very cyborg-like, and people are clamouring for them. Over the last 20 years, it’s been interesting to see how little resistance there is to the merging of our organic selves and the devices that we attach to ourselves to enhance our capabilities.

Do you think we’re “at the dawn of a Second Enlightenment”, as your character Eamon Bailey suggests in the book?

That’s the point of view of Eamon Bailey and those who run the Circle – and maybe more than a few purveyors of current and near-future technology: that anything that can be known should be known; that the only obstacle to perfection is incomplete data.

What is the greatest threat to our freedom today?

Our feeling that we’re entitled to know anything we want about anyone we want.

In the Padlet below I am posting some questions I would like to reflect upon before we start analysing the novel more into depth.

Creato con Padlet

We will be watching some key passages in the film adaptation of the novel.  Before we do that, look at the image that will appear everywhere in the film.  Is there a link/similarity with the image on the cover of the book?

17 Replies to “The Circle by Dave Eggers”

  1. Popularity. That is the greatest threat of our freedom. People have the constant desire of being watched and to post everything of their lives, so to be considered famous and loved by everyone. The problem is that the more people start to post on social medias, the more they claim that you have to post a lot, and show everything of your privacy too. This is a sort of job for people, mostly for millennials: teenagers are the promoters of this maniacal obsession and they are the hardest judges when we speak about popularity. If you not post or share anything, you are considered the scum of the society; you are invisible, and no one would ever talk to you or take you in regard. That is some kind of bullying where the “strongest” denigrate the “weakest”, although he is the most normal people inside this lack of harpies.
    This events are only the beginning of something more hazardous: we see by now, unfortunately, that today many teenagers are bullied and outcast from the rest of their mates: even those who ones were their friends, now they are not, because going with that loser states that they are losers too, so they are unpopular. This brings to many episodes of suicides or homicides for the most unstable persons. Popularity makes people do things that they would not have ever done before. This obliged us to follow the mass and do what the coolest do, if not you are a mess, so to completely deny to us every sort of freedom. We are chained!
    Wanting to be famous is a disease. This affects the single and also those who follow him and those who not. Maybe in the future we can use popularity for explain equality between people… Maybe one day. Now we only have to face an issue that no adult can resolve. It is only in the millennials hands.

  2. I agree with Dave Eggers when he says that our will to know everything is the greatest threat to our freedom. After reading this book I thought about if knowing everything is what human beings really want: in the novel Annie discovers something that she will never expected about her family and, after this discover, she understands that she would have preferred to never know anything about it. This brought me to ask myself: are we sure that we want to know everything or just what will not hurt us?
    Annie is not free to chose whether to share her personal discovers because she is obliged to do it for the “freedom of knowing” of the other. But it is right do deny the freedom of one person to ensure it to all the others? If everyone has to be free, there must not be someone that decide who can have freedom and who cannot.
    Another threat to our freedom is disinformation because we have the right to know what concerns us. As I wrote before, we should have the right to know the things that are directly linked to us but that do not hurt the people around us. To guarantee our freedom we have to ensure it to others, because we cannot claim it if we are the ones who negate it. We should have access to the real news and not the fake ones that are provided by who wants to hide truth that concerns everyone.
    We have to find a balance between what we should and what we should not know, so in this way we could guarantee our freedom without denying it to others.

  3. My opinion regarding this novel could as well answer the question about what I think is the biggest threat to our freedom today,
    In this novel Dave Eggers assumes all people (except for Mercer, representing a very small minority) are willing to give away their freedom and privacy consciously, as seen throughout the novel, by phrases like ” Privacy is theft” or “Secrets are lies”. I think the truth is that most of us care about their privacy and would very much like to preserve it, but not all of us have the time or the knowledge to invest in researching how overwhelming is the power of social media and consumer data database societies already, and how tyrannical they could become one day if not regulated. As you know, we discussed this topic during the writing of our resolution for the European Young Parliament, and the main problem is that even big companies that are nearly a monopoly, like Equifax, which main objective is to gather and therefore protect personal data, are often not considered liable for cyberattacks on their sites.
    We are told, every time we sing in a new social network, where our shared information will be used, but a little minority of us has the wish to go through 10 pages of legal stuff, so we often skip this part; but the biggest problem is that, even if all of us knew about the legal rights of social media on our images and posts, we would most likely still use them, because at this point it is too hard to promote a business or to communicate through traditional media on a professional level.
    I do not think any powerful social media will ever grow as the Cricle, or even try to think about imposing their service as mandatory by law; what is likely to occur is the systematic replacement of traditional or not-traceable means of communication and the enforcement on the market of big agglomerates that will control most of the information flow.
    However, I think this would be easily avoidable by simply imposing stricter rules on data management and by removing some of the rights companies now have in the use of our information..

  4. What is the greatest threat to our freedom today?

    On December 14th the Federal Communications Commission of the United States of America voted to repeal net neutrality, the principle which states that Internet providers should not control what we see and do online, by treating all content from the internet equally and not giving preference to some digital content. The abolition of this principle is a real threat to the Internet’s democracy and the main implications of the abolition could be the Internet’s stratification, increased costs to costumers and prohibited access to content for all. It could also give Internet providers the ability to choke people’s Internet traffic. Customers will not likely have visibility into what traffic they are prevented to see, and it could heavily slow down people’s Internet connections. People who experience slower Internet speeds may get frustrated and stop seeking out their favorite sites, and therefore lose the capability to make choices about the content they want to see.
    The affected ones would not only be customers, but also small and medium businesses which would be put at disadvantage and killed by major companies. Tech giants as Amazon, Facebook and Google took a back seat in the debate about net neutrality, proclaiming themselves “disappointed” by the new proposal. They tried to keep a low profile and play defense rather than draw attention, fully aware that the current government has turned against them.
    The monopolization of the internet would endanger people’s personal privacy and the security of corporations which could suffer the inability to protect their data and keep their Internet activity private. Even though it looks like the plot of a dystopian novel, it is not too far from reality. As a matter of fact in totalitarian regimes, as the one in China, the governmental authorities not only block website content, but also monitor the Internet access of private citizens.
    If we think Net Neutrality’s repeal in the USA does not concern us as European citizens, we are totally wrong. In 2015 the European Union approved a regulation which stated the guidelines on net neutrality, meaning that telecom operators cannot abuse of their power and threaten the stability of the Internet. Unlikely in the United States, Europeans have plenty of choices for internet access at home and on their mobile phones, therefore operators cannot gain a bigger control. However, some providers have started offering basic monthly subscription plans which allows users to access in specific apps or websites without consuming any mobile Internet. The activation of these offers involves the navigation’s analysis by the carrier, completely breaking net neutrality’s law.
    Currently the biggest issue for Europe and other parts of the world is that countries watch what the United States does, making the consequences of FCC’s repeal not very positive internationally.

  5. In a world where in most countries there is complete freedom of expression, at least through the internet, I think the greatest threat to our freedom is ourselves, meaning both the human race in general and ourselves as persons.
    As regards the first point, in my opinion we are going to be the reason of our extinction, for one reason or another: be it from an atomic war or from an environmental disaster, I think it is too late to reverse the course of history. If we will not be the direct cause of our downfall, it will be our fault indirectly because we have already affected the planet in such a way that in probably less than a century it will be impossible to live here anymore, and we have reached the nadir point; we can only try to minimize the damage of our actions but eventually there will be nothing we can do to save the earth, or at least to maintain it in conditions that allow life as we know it.
    Anyhow, this is considering freedom as a general right for humanity.
    Speaking of personal freedom instead, I think we are the biggest threat to our own freedom because we do not believe in ourselves enough to think that we may be able to, one day, realize our dreams. This can also be seen as fear of failing to realize this dreams, which leads us to not even trying anymore. I think we often sacrifice our dreams, that are in my opinion a type of freedom, to instead live a “safe” life, making the decisions the others expect us to make. But in this way we are not truly free; we are controlled by prejudices, expectations and judgement.
    Another threat to our freedom is ignorance. It is widespread, especially in the third world, and it is the first step of a chain. Ignorance leads people to vote for those who deceive them with fake speeches promising greatness and richness. If the voters don’t know who they are voting for, what the critical issues are, how our system of government works, who their local representative is, or the basics of the Constitution, then freedom will not long survive.

  6. There is no doubt The Circle warns us about the huge powers we will have in a foreseeable future. The technologies used in the novel are not so distant form the ones we already posses, moreover we have already subconsciously started to take the first steps heading towards a situation of absence of privacy. But what concerns me the most is the concentration of power into only one institution or firm. The Circle was able to climb the ladder of success in just six years reaching, when the narration starts, even the chance to substitute the US government in specific services. The fact that a private company has the opportunity to do similar things scares me. Still comparable events are occurring under our noses: for example last summer Alphabet, the mother company of Google, was sanctioned by the EU with a fine of about 2.4 billions of euros for manipulating the e-commerce services. The colossus is however used to this kind of sanctions: last year Google was accused of abuse of dominant position in the market. These are symptoms of a monopolisation of the Internet and many experts are wondering wether the Antirust should intervene again, as it did in 1984 with AT&T, breaking up the company in minor societies.
    Due to these similarities, to me The Circle is a dystopian vision of the near future that we can reach by letting few businesses erase the competitors and be at the same level of the governments. As a matter of fact, the derive of the events in the novel becomes more evident once the idea of substituting the authorities is implanted into the circler’s mind.

    If I were plunged into a world where anonymity is banished I would certainly be a victim of it. Privacy is a legitimate right. I don’t believe that if we knew someone is watching us we would start to behave rightfully: we would just act according to what the values were. A society that obliges its member to be monitored 24/7 is a sick society, thus its values would be warped. There is passage where a character claims the thesis by which the laws would have been no longer needed if anyone got transparent. This concept disturbed me. To me this is some kind of surrender to the malignant side of humanity: if we oblige men to behave rightfully we don’t give them the possibility to use their conscience. It is like stating we do not trust the humankind anymore. The paradox is that the system came into existence to give the world a better chance but as it developed the events started to converge into a sort of masked sad totalitarianism.

  7. Reading this novel prompted me some more thoughts and an important awareness of how we use technology today. I think that in today’s society nobody can do anything without technology anymore, especially without the use of smartphones and social media, and this aspect is becoming more and more evident. One of the questions that spontaneously arises is “does this aspect limit our freedom today?” I think the answer is definitely positive and this is one of the aspects that most threatens human freedom. I fully agree that our feeling that we’re entitled to know anything we want about anyone we want is a great threat to personal freedom, but I think the real threat nowadays is not so much technology, because, if used in the right way, it represents a great advantage to the society, but rather the problem of the environmental emergency; especially the issue of the global warming: this is a difficult aspect to cure and it could be an heavy threat because it could cause catastrophic consequences that will leave the earth in uninhabitable conditions that would really be a limit to the freedom of humanity.

  8. What is the greatest threat to our freedom today?

    I think that it is something very commonplace, that we experience everyday but at the same time we are the one who makes it perceive to others, even if we do not realize it. It is the fear of judgement, the anxiety of what the others think of us, of our actions.
    When I talk with my friends about our defects, the most common that comes out is the one of being too much affected by the thought of the others. In a certain way we are all affected by this, some more, some less. We make our actions, but before we wonder about what people will think about it; in some cases, it can be positive, because it stops us from doing stupid things, but in other cases it takes away a part of our freedom, because we do not feel entitled to do whatever we want to do.
    Sometimes we are not even the real ourselves because if we behave like we really want and we are different from the ordinary, we are labeled as weird. In fact, I think that only the people who really loves us are the ones who understand who we really are and the ones with whom we can behave like we desire, without even care of what they think of us. We feel completely free with them, but sadly I think that the number of these people is very low.
    We always say that we are all equal, that we have the same rights (so also the one of doing what we want in respect of the others); but whenever someone tries to do something new or in his personal way, we are immediately ready to criticize him. This is all because we live in a world where everything is labeled and we must all fit in the ordinary standards; or, at least, this is what the majority of people think.
    Therefore, the concept that if you do not behave like the mass you are only strange, and not someone that thinks with his mind, is the greatest threat to our freedom in this era of “liberty”.

  9. We live in a world where everything is computerized and we have easily access to any kind of information online and it is well known that, regarding to certain areas, this general computerization can be harmful.
    Today it seems that social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (and others) are indispensable because many consider the time spent on social media as time for recreation and relaxation. They even seem to be the necessary tools for establish relationships of any kind with other people. However, I do not think that without social media we would not be able to relate to each other as many people say, but I think that they make everything much easier. Surely it is not always a good thing, but I think it is up to the intelligence of each of us to make conscious use of these very powerful tools that we have in our hands.
    The limit we must try to put to this general computerization is that of the private sphere that each of us has. In fact we know everything about everyone and we can follow 24 hours a day what our acquaintances do, and in turn, we feel the need to publish the same information accessible to everyone. Obviously the limit is not to the freedom that each of us has in publishing what he/she wants, but it is necessary to pay attention to the information we share and above all, to the need we feel to share them.
    In Eggers’s book all these aspects are highlighted very well even though they are certainly take to extreme. I think it is a book with a very important message that makes us reflect on how harmful the new technology around us can be. In my point of view The Circle is even a bit unsettling because it is scary to imagine where man can arrive if completely inhibited and controlled by the digital world. Beyond the objective and material aspects such as the presence of cameras that monitor the person 24 hours a day, I was particularly impressed by the ease with which the protagonist was involved in this “circle” up to the point that she became almost a spokesperson.
    One of the main themes is certainly the abuse of power that is concentrated in the hands of one, or as in this case, in the hands of a company that could be compared to Facebook or Google. I believe that this is an aspect that became immediately explicit because the protagonist has been subjugated since she joined the company. I think that the most terrible thing is that transparency and honesty are confused with private life and with the violation of the privacy of everyone. The book offers an extreme view of the life of each of us in the absence of a limitation in the influence of digitalization; I do not think it can be a realistic novel, as I believe that human reason is able to understand certain limits; for this reason I cannot imagine a reality where is banned the private dimension of each of us because it is an human instinct and it is typical to the sensitivity of everyone, the protection of what is strictly personal. When, and if ever, the private sphere will be erased, man will no longer exist and in their place the world will be of those who are called robots. The absurdity of a life completely monitored and controlled by technology emerges from the constant agitation of the protagonist who, through her state of mind, makes us understand that even though the computerization of everything may be apparently extraordinary, it is not natural, it is not normal, and it is impossible to accept for the human being a reality of this kind. I think it is surreal even what is presented as Mae’s work which practically seems to consist in trying to become popular and as visible as possible within The Circle. Personally, I think this great company is comparable to a sandcastle because if we manages to dig a little deeper and more concretely, it would collapse.
    Ultimately, I believe that the biggest threat to our privacy today are ourselves. The development of technology is inevitable, progress is inevitable and it is inevitable and normal that we all exploit all this because it simplifies things, it is useful and efficient. However, it is our duty not to abuse of this and not to let this replace the human dimension.

  10. “Our feeling that we’re entitled to know anything we want about anyone we want.” This answer strikes me how true it is. In fact, I have always said that my greatest defect is my excessive need of knowledge. I am not necessarily talking about the will of knowing anything of anybody; it is more the general comprehension of the things, the cultures and the discoveries that interested me. I would define it more as an obsession, this thing of mine, that I have always associated with the ambition, and it justifies all my dedication to the study and to school. I can say that my ambition limits some freedoms of mine; in fact, because of the trainings and the study I cannot find the time to do the things I like, neither to do the things my peers are used to do, or to get a new hobby. But this, after all, was my choice.
    The problem is that I cannot think of the greatest threat to our freedom; it is difficult, thinking about it, so I started surfing on the net. I searched first of all which is the most important freedom, and I tried to reflect upon it asking myself what, in my personal life experience, could have ever delimitate it. I did not find just one kind of liberty, but such more, and maybe the more important are the one that can be identify with the right of life, equality, religion and the right to speak. In my full 17s, I cannot say that I have ever been hampered in all of that; actually, I have always been said that we live in a democratic and free country where everything is tolerated, but on the other hand I have always been said that it is all a great lie. Feminicides, terroristic attacks, social inequalities, murders, strikes are a daily occourance. The most ironic thing is that each of them is nothing more than the result of human actions. On one hand, we have the man who believes in same ideals such as liberty; on the other hand we have the same man who destroys and undermines the same principles for which it has been fight so much. It is so ironic, is not it? And the point is that it is all a matter of choices, maybe also simple choices that were believed right but that, indirectly, feed the mean man, the destroyer.
    I am not still sure of my answer, but I think I have finally come to the conclusion that the greatest threat to our freedom is our nature, our choices. Whether it is a small freedom, as the mine of going out and enjoying my time, or whether it is a big one, such as life, it all depends on our actions, on what we think is right and better.

  11. What is the greatest threat to our freedom today?
    Despite the numerous definition given to freedom by philosophers, journalist, presidents and everyday citizen throughout the history, I do believe that freedom is the right to do what we want, live where we want, eat what we want without caring about others judgement.
    The prejudices against each other stand for the greatest threat to our freedom today. We no longer feel free to live our lives as we see fit for fear of being judged in a wrong and inadequate way. Inevitably each of us kind of feels the need to judge another person but the problem comes up when we do it with malice and disrespect. To my way of thinking words are the sharpest weapon by which you can strike deep into the sensitivity of the human beings, making them suffer as well as hurting them intensely.
    Another fear that affects human actions and does not allow to live peacefully is the insistent and overwhelming oppression of parents who try in every way to keep an eye on your actions and behaviour, being convinced to help you grow up; on the contrary, they reduce the likelihood of making mistakes by themselves, which I personally think it is an essential step for someone to grow older and wiser.
    therefore if you making your own mistakes is a way of avoiding repeating them. By imposing obligations and bans, a child could end up rebelling and doing things that one might regret in the future. As far as I am concerned the best parental teaching would be to give children an input and let them experience as much as they can so as to enhance their background, as well as broaden and change your outlook on life. As a consequence of that a child is able to become more aware of difficulties and obstacles that they may came across.

    Another limit for our freedom to me is represented by powerful people who easily influence ordinary people getting them to do something they actually would never do. In this way more often than not people’s needs are not fully satisfied and their life is not fulfilled owing to the restraint and constraints that limit what you really what to.

    Likewise, money is another aspect that kind of limits our freedom. It goes without saying that money gives you the chance of doing what you want and also to improve your condition of life; Obviously it is not the only deciding factor but it makes everything easier and much more comfortable.

  12. This is a very difficult question I’ve never asked to myself. In my opinion the greatest threat to our freedom is probably the violation of our rights on privacy. Every single word or concept we search on internet is controlled and stored, these informations are then sold by titans like Google so that ads we find, while we’re surfing in the net, are personalised, for example if I’m looking on internet how much does a certain car cost when I close the website there are ads and ads of different types of cars and even websites of banks that can give you loans to buy you’re so desired car!
    Another problem, even bigger, is that having a personal idea nowadays is really difficult; everyday we are conditioned by ads on YouTube, TV programmes on television, articles on newspapers and websites that tell us what is wrong with our life and our society, often this platforms of information are controlled by politicians and big companies that steal from us the opportunity of having a personal idea presenting their own one as if it is ours. Doing this they can easily direct our thoughts to everything they want.

  13. What is the greatest threat to our freedom today?

    When everyone will be able to know everything about every people on the Earth, we will lose completely our freedom. During our life it is impossible not to keep some secrets and we do this for the good of our friends or relatives. If these secrets would be accessible to everyone we will probably lose some significant friends and our life will be different.
    Knowing everything about a person could helps you to avoid embarrassing misunderstandings but conversations would be much shorter than before. As a matter of fact if I know every single aspect of someone’s life many questions would be irrelevant because I already know the answer. The sensation of surprise that we feel when we find out something in common with a person cannot be described. Knowing everything would make disappear these feelings and our life will be much more boring.

  14. What has struck me the most about the post has been the review of the novel by Margaret Atwood, precisely the following quotations: “Maebelline, a name that closely resembles that of a brand of mascara, thus hinting at masks and acting” and “There is no real war holiday called MaeDay, but “Mayday”—from the French m’aidez—is a venerable distress signal”. They both concern the use of language and a disguised ambiguity; as a matter of fact, I had not grasped these aspects, which I now find absolutely relevant in order to get every facet of the story.
    As regards the question concerning what I think the greatest threat to our freedom is, I reckon the answer can be found leafing through a newspaper: terrorism is getting the upper hand on (most of) us because nowadays we would not go somewhere, rather than risking our life, even though we are aware of the fact that frightening us is the terrorists’ aim and that the chance of getting involved in an attack is relatively low. I personally think we should not be afraid of wandering, or actually we should not stop ourselves before booking a trip. I feel like if it happened to me, I would accept it and probably regret it, yet I could say I have faced my this fear of mine.

  15. To me, the greatest threat to our freedom nowadays is the fact that we depend exclusively on technology. We are addicted to it, and not just our phones or social media, but every form of technology, from domestic appliances to the internet. It has become so important to us that everything is made on the basis of technology. You cannot live without a phone, because people would not be able to contact you; the same applies to email accounts, since they are essential in any workplace. If I were to present my CV to apply for a job, with no email address or mobile telephone number indicated, I certainly would not get the job.

    Our addiction is a threat because we are no longer free to choose. If we did unplug completely, had no phone or an email, we would be isolated and considered as rebels against modern society. We could neither work nor live our daily lives normally.

    For instance, what would happen if suddenly a worldwide blackout occurred? We would not be able to survive without our technological devices. We rely so much on them that it would be impossible for us to live without them. Unfortunately, technological progress and complete freedom are not compatible.

    Also, this rapid technological advance will sooner or later backfire on us. We will be controlled by technology instead of being in control of it.

  16. Italy has already experienced a dictatorship during the last century. In a totalitarian system, no one can be free. There is not even press freedom, nation (as a political institution) becomes the most important thing and the individual (as a person) takes second place.
    Freedom is an important human right that has to be guaranteed. It also stands for securing to everyone an equal opportunity for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. There are mainly four kinds of liberty: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of every person to worship God in his own way, freedom from want, freedom from fear.
    In “The Circle” Mae experienced another type of lack of freedom, she has not any kind of privacy. She is constantly recording everything she does in her daily life. The book describes a sort of experiment, Eamon Bailey wants to sacrifice liberty so as to create a safer environment where everybody is always controlled by cameras. Personally, I think that the most important freedom is having the possibility of studying. I know that school is not the best environment where to stay for half of your life, but it is the only place where you can learn how to live. Parents are an essential part of your life, however, in my opinion, friends and school are fundamental for our education. Studying allows you to achieve freedom of thought and expands your knowledge. Personally, I think that Italian school is very limited in some ways, and it has a lot of problems, for example there is always at least one teacher who hates his/her work.
    Nowadays a lot of people cannot afford to pay for their children’s education. And this happens in every part of the world. Our constitution claims that we must have all the same opportunities, but is that true? Of course not. Rents are very expensive in Italy and there are also academic taxes. Some African nations are at war, so children are obliged to become soldiers.
    Finally, we (as Italian students) are very lucky to live in here in Italy, because we have the possibility to go to school, even though it is not always affordable for everyone. Since education is one of the most indispensable aspects of our life, every nation must ensure it.

  17. Throughout history the greatest priority of humans have always been the preservation of life; they have protect this fundamental right by using every means everyone considered suitable and by often resorting to methods that could jeopardize other people’s life. Philosophers like Hobbes or Locke, lived during the XVII century, called this humanity condition with the name of “State of nature”: obviously in this condition, fundamental rights deriving from the first one (the conservation of life) are not guaranteed, actually they are endangered.
    However thanks to the fact that fortunately humans organized themselves in State settled by laws, that are supposedly made to ensure the undeniable rights, the current situation is not the one of the “State of nature”.
    One of the most important rights over the years has been liberty, without any doubts; if we analyze every social issue that have put a strain on the balance between humans and have sometimes also degenerated in bloody conflicts we can clearly see that the trigger was liberty.
    Today this essential right is sometimes cast out in the name of safety and a large part of the population is willing to sacrifice liberty in order to preserve his/her own life.

    All of us is aware of the fact that one of the greatest inclinations of humans is the need of control and supremacy over the others: I think that this is actually the greatest threat to our freedom today, together with the wrong use or the lack of knowledge and the capacity to manipulate the masses.
    The lack of knowledge is in my opinion one of the most dangerous things for the balance between humans and the safety of our planet. There clearest example is the stubborn belief shared by a large numbers of heads of State and their administrations of the non-existence and the baselessness of Global warming even if there are plenty of evidences, observable also in our daily existence.
    However also the overabundance of knowledge is potentially dangerous, especially if it is use to manipulate the masses so that they are lead to renounce to their own liberty; it can undermine freedom, also because it can be use in order to create powerful tools used to control other people’s life and violet their privacy. Some examples are the infinite possibilities offered by the Internet and technology: if they fall into the right hands they can be destructive and fatal for our right of freedom. Nowadays technology is starting to incorporate more and more things and there is the real risk that it will evolve in a central system where everyone is controlled and where everyone’s data are accessible to anyone like we have clearly seen in “The Circle”.

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