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Obviously I am not the only student who was shocked and, to be honest, uncomfortable and scared in today’s screening. Clearly we are all familiar with the Snowden scandal and the ensuing media frenzy, and it’s natural that we would all have similar reactions to being forced to face the amount of surveillance all of our lives are under. However, I think I may have experienced another realization while watching Citizen Four about another level of ignorance I have or had. When these stories about the NSA broke, I was a far less aware junior in high school (I was reminded of this because of the Selena Gomez song that topped the charts at the time playing in the background of the documentary). Of course I followed the stories on some level, it was impossible not to, but I don’t think I understood the gravity of their implications until recently (maybe due to this course). Maybe it’s because of the reaction (or lack thereof) my parents had to the stories or because I was simply more self-involved and unaware of my surroundings at the time, but I seem to remember seeing Snowden as sort of a villain at the time, and I assume that’s because that’s the way the American government portrayed him. I understood that the amount of surveillance was wrong and a violation of privacy and therefore liberty, but I think I also thought that Snowden was wrong to leak government secrets as well (still trying to figure out how I reconciled these opinions). After watching Citizen Four, I sympathize with Snowden much more and even admire his bravery. I’m ruminating on his points about how the surveillance efforts of the government in order to fight “terrorism” did quite the opposite, and I take this to mean that the government ended up as invasive terrorists themselves, stripping Americans of their basic rights and violating fundamental values of the country.  The documentary plays out like a thriller portraying the potential extremes of government power and intimidation, so it’s very alarming that it’s all real and was so well hidden a few years ago.