"As every man goes through life
he fills in a number of forms for the record,
each containing a number of questions .
There are thus hundreds of little threads
radiating from every man,
millions of threads in all.
If these threads were suddenly to become visible,
the whole sky would look like a spider’s web,
and if they materialized as rubber bands;
buses, trams and even people would all lose the ability to move,
and the wind would be unable to carry torn-up newspapers
or autumn leaves along the streets of the city.
They are not visible, they are not material, but
every man is constantly aware of their existence.
Each man, permanently aware of his own invisible threads
naturally develops a respect for the people who manipulate the threads"
In the course of his daily commerce, the bits of ordinary data Solzhenitsyn filled into forms, became the threads that kept him under control of the communist party. As it turns out, the words of a dissident are not simple threads... they are ropes. During his imprisonment Solzhenitsyn continued to "speak his mind." Of course it was too dangerous to actually speak, he wanted his cry against tyranny to be heard by all Russia... not just those in screaming distance. So he wrote novels. In his head. He memorized them as poems and when he had the chance, he put them to paper. To write privately in his head and then on paper - was more effective in the end. Because he kept his papers well hidden.
It seems today that Everyman is not aware of how the threads of self revelation are connected. Everyman is not "constantly aware" of pervasive data collection. Of how, or why, it's collected. Who holds the strings. Solzhenitsyn implies that in Stalin's Russia the threads were obvious to everybody.
Why do citizen of the EU have data protections (GDPR) against this tangle of threads but not Americans? Do they live closer to Germany? To Russia? Do they have better memories? Privacy is the most essential issue of the Information Age. Politics and finding solutions for urgent issues of survival (like fixing politics) can't move forward if we are tangled up in threads.