The Circle, by Dave Eggers, is a very contemporary interesting page-turner! The Circle is the leading internet technology company obsessed with being social and everything “social-media”. The penetration of social media in our lives depicted in the book is a bit on the extreme side as of today but creates a much probable picture of what could happen in future! And yes, it has a message!
Mae Holland, the main character, sees a radical change in her life when she is hired by the Circle after her best friend Annie’s referral. Being a “Circler” transforms her from a reclusive person to an internet aficionado!
Circle’s “TruYou” aims at everyone being associated with a TruYou account and all the transactions/interactions/communications being carried out with the same. Basically, everything needs to be transparent. Circle campus is buzzing with new inventions everyday to make this possible in its truest sense. You get to read about amazing experiments. Lollipop sized cameras are installed across the globe and in an experiment people across the world find a killer in record time of 6 minutes just using Circle applications and communication via wristbands! You can ensure a super successful date with your girlfriend/boyfriend if you do your homework of running a search over Circle’s database which will tell you the minutest details about the person.
Life in Circle revolves only around communicating. Mae has 9 screens on her desk, some are just for sending zings/comment/smiles/frowns to others. Every Circler has a PartiRank (Prticipating Rank) and those in top 2000 are termed a Y2K! If Mae goes Kayaking and does not post anything on the social media, she is guilty of being sub-communicative!! It is considered as a theft if you do not share what you see/observe/like/experience! Politicians go “transparent” and wear wristbands which show their conversation to the audience live all through the day!
Some people enjoy this so-called transparency and being hyper-active on social media and revealing everything publicly,On the contrary, there are others who wish to be selective about how much they want to expose and they are quite pissed off by the whole concept of “completing the Circle”. Mae loses her childhood friend Mercer when he cannot cope up with being followed by cameras everytime and ends his life. Annie volunteers for a program where they guarantee to find out the complete lineage of everyone and goes into a Coma when she (and the world) knows about dark history of her ancestors. These incidents make her realise that not everything has to be exposed and we all have THE right to disappear.
It turned out to be an interesting read for me. As I mentioned earlier, it is a bit extreme but I enjoyed it completely. If you have ever used/loved/despised social media, you will find something in this book to like!
Few noteworthy lines from the book:
“Most people would trade everything they know, everyone they know- they’d trade it all to know they’ve been seen, and acknowledged, that they might even be remembered. We all know the world is too big for us to be significant. So all we have is the hope of being seen, or heard, even for a moment.”
“You sit at a desk twelve hours a day and you have nothing to show for it except some numbers that won’t exist or be remembered in a week. You’re leaving no evidence you lived. There’s no proof.”
“ALL THAT HAPPENS MUST BE KNOWN.”
“Privacy is Theft”
Not in favour of a complete CIRCLE:
“We are not meant to know everything, Mae. Did you ever think that perhaps our minds are delicately calibrated between the known and the unknown? That our souls need the mysteries of night and the clarity of day? Young people are creating ever-present daylight, and I think it will burn us all alive. There will be no time to reflect, to sleep to cool.”