Privacy & Anonymity Today

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With the use of Distance Machine, we can see that there is a drastic increase of using terms “Privacy” and “Anonymity.”   Dave Eggers’ The Circle, provides proof to the heighten concerns of many in modern literature and life in general. Privacy and anonymity are related in their definition as being “hidden.” However, they are more like cousins than they are identical twins. Privacy is a right. Everyone should be entitled to share or conceal what they want to the public. Anonymity is a choice. The person who feeds or masks this information can chose whether they want to reveal the source from which it all comes from: themselves/others. There is the actual information versus the person(s) telling it.

In the novel, both terms are stripped from the individual. There is no such thing as privacy because “Privacy is Theft” and Circlers just don’t play that kind of ballgame. It’s considered as blasphemy!  Everything, from major events like campus parties and inventions, to simply indicating one’s blood type, is shared and “zinged.” Keeping secrets make people miserable and stored information should be shared so EVERYONE can benefit from it. To hide anything is basically taking away from another person’s benefits.

The two charts above shows how The Circle isn’t the only novel stirring up some controversy and concern about privacy and anonymity. Nowadays, people “tweet” whatever they want to say, upload as many pictures they please, and “check-in” to every single place they go to. This constant update we make on our social profiles is no different from the Circlers’. Of course, we still want our privacy. Yet, are we even respecting the term when we ourselves are so quick to give it away? Not only has the exchange of information and “privacy” completely changed, but how we view ourselves in that process did as well. There’s so many fake profiles and anonymous faces on the web that play both devil and angel. These faceless profiles set out to cause major trouble like cyber-bullying or “trolling.” The issue of cyber-bulling has increased over time and is starting at even younger ages since early research surrounding it began. On the other side, these figures leak information that is hidden from us. Like government documents or “unwanted news.” It raises the question: “Who can we trust?”

I believe that the increase of “Privacy” and “Anonymity” is due to social media and Internet access. The Web is where anything can happen. You can say what you want, when you want to, and however way you so please. These aren’t just books that research the birth of the Digital Age and how it uses these terms, but to also show the anxiety built around it.


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