This post is in response to the first half reading of Dave Eggers’ The Circle. Published October of 2013.
Upon starting this book, and being introduced to Mae and The Circle, I found it exciting, fun, and the sort of place I wanted to work. Then the story gets progressively more interesting, and darker.
The parts that I found exciting was the sorts of freedoms and gifts such a company can give to its employees. They aren’t so much as lavish as well thought and well practiced efficiencies meant to extend the employee’s life and improve their health.
What really started hurting this future story for me was the increasing invasiveness of social media. Being social for the sake of being social. It seems almost insane. Perhaps I value substance over breadth.
I think the characters themselves are a reflection of their lifestyle. They act like they are all brainwashed. Giddy and itchy at the smallest of things, but when it gets to the deeper darker levels, there is no care paid. It is interesting how some of the characters come in pairs, but both of their personalities are identical. And don’t get me started on the intense and unreasonable mood swings. These people are so sleep deprived they can’t think straight for themselves.
The lengths that Mae was required to increase her social standing, is mind numbingly audacious. Perhaps this is where I start showing my old man stripes and start drawing lines. I’m sorry, but there is a part where you loose your humanity for the sake of managing it all.
However, I can think this differently and approach it from a different perspective. What if I grew up in this time where Facebook was a memory and this company has replaced them, and phone companies, and stores altogether. The Circle is the single most powerful and influential company on the planet. It is Google plus Tesla plus SpaceX, plus any number of universities. Ultimately you don’t choose to work at The Circle, you choose to live The Circle. The Circle is a Lifestyle. Yes, you work there, but you have to pay for the technology and conveniences that only they can provide. It’s like some huge social experiment in a society where nothing is secret and to demand privacy would be treason.
Their openness towards each other forces truthfulness. It requires awareness of each other’s emotions and desires. It demands a greater attendance to your neighbors and how you can best provide to a society. I see value in this philosophy. I value privacy. In a way it is sacred. In a world where privacy becomes less and less, it can be valued more and more. There will come a time where even our minds can no longer be safe refuge for your most private of thoughts. I accept this to be an inevitable truth in the pursuit towards better mediums of communication.
As the mediums of our communications evolve, so will our society to match it. Perhaps we have yet to reach the very height of social media. I’m not sure I would be able to keep up with such a demand. There has to be a point where a person can only take so many inputs. Perhaps we can handle more, but it has to be trained and developed, and the only way that can happen is if the technology pushes us. Even so, the wider you spread your attention, there is only so much depth one can have. These characters are shallow because of their lifestyle. Well connected, but unable to go any deeper then the barest of facts and the business at hand. It is disturbing how drone like they are.