In the not-so-distant future, a social network called The Circle has gained control of almost all of the internet. With the Circle, every person in the world has an account linked to their identity, and almost everything they do goes through the Circle. The Circle’s main goal is to eradicate lies, make everything in the world transparent, and connect every single person in the world. The story follows a twenty-year-old named Mae, who gets a low-level job at the Circle.
When we get inside the Circle’s headquarters, it sounds a lot like Facebook or Google. The utopian conditions at the Circle’s offices create a space that never necessitates its employees to leave. Everything they need can be found there, so they never have to go home again–they can be constantly connected to the Circle. The founder of the Circle is a young guy that wears a signature hoodie (Berman 2013). Sound like any famous boy billionaires you know?
Hint: it’s ya boy Zuck
Eggers creates a commentary on social media and the transparency it espouses. The Circle goes further than just endorsing the ever-growing pro-public tendencies of today’s culture, it states that “Privacy is theft.” That if you aren’t sharing something with someone, you are depriving them of it, and that is a crime. “Sharing is caring,” “Secrets are lies,” are ideas the Circle lives by (Eggers 2013). Spooky!
Eggers created a modern-day 1984 (hey wow we talked about that in class today), and the freakiest part about it is the immediacy of its believability. It’s not a stretch–it’s all things you could see happening, and happening soon. In 1984, George Orwell created “Big Brother”–the leader of society that called for a constant surveillance state. In ‘The Circle,’ we are the Big Brother. We are constantly telling other people what we’ve been doing, updating them on our lives, erasing our own privacy. We offer it up. And we blame technology for encroaching on our privacy, but truth be told, we are also to blame for the ever blurring lines between personal and public.
I’m not saying everything that happened in ‘The Circle’ will come to fruition. Truth be told, while believable, the plot was at times dramatic. But it did pose important questions about the impacts of social media and constant inter-connectivity and where it’s going to take us.
It’s a good book! Pick it up! Spoiler: someone dies! Oops! Whatever! Very dramatic! Also the book jacket is cool. It is orange, but like a cool orange (see above; I hooked you up!).
Berman, D. K. (2013, SEPTE 17). Dave eggers’s ‘the circle’ takes vengeance on google, facebook. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323342404579081503189753492
Eggers, D. (2013). The circle. San Francisco: McSweeneys.