You guys? The Circle by Dave Eggers is a scary book.
Not in the traditional sense of the word. There are no dead bodies or blood or a crazed psychopath trying to murder a houseful of teens. I can’t read those books.
But The Circle is scary in a whole other way. It’s scary because I’m not sure that it’s that far away from becoming some kind of reality.
Mae Holland is your typical Millennial. She got a great education only to find herself back in her home town selling her soul to the local utilities company, wondering where it all went so wrong.
So when her friend Annie, shiny, perfect, brilliant, Annie, pulls some strings to get Mae a job with the Circle, Mae is suitably awed. The Circle is a Facebook/Twitter/Google type place that has parties every night, dorms on campus for sleeping, free food in the cafeteria, and incredible, light, open plan work spaces. Everyone that works there is happy and healthy and feels like their opinions and ideas matter.
It starts to get weird fast. Mae neglects to activate her work social media account in her first week and this is a massive deal. She neglected to attend this brunch for people that like Portugal and has to have a meeting with her supervisor about having hurt some guy’s feelings for not attending. Mae’s all I didn’t even RSVP to that brunch but the thing about the Circle is that everything you’ve ever done or uploaded to your social media profile is searchable to everyone within the organization so when this guy wanted to have a brunch for all the people that liked Portugal, Mae’s name comes up.
And then she didn’t show up.
People are really weirded out when it turns out that Mae goes kayaking and there’s no mention of this on her profile anywhere, she never even takes pictures of what she sees when she goes kayaking. For them it’s like it never happened.
The people at the Circle are a little needy.
Basically they have set up this one profile for everyone on the planet. All of your shopping and social media platforms are in one place. Hootsuite to the 1000th degree. In order to activate a profile, you have to use your real name so suddenly there are no more trolls online. A victory for mankind!
But the Circle’s zeal for openness and transparency maybe goes a little too far and Mae has to decide if she’s going to go with it or take a stand against it. The longer she works there, the further down the rabbit hole she goes. This guy Kalden keeps turning up and she can’t figure out what his deal is – is he a spy trying to take down the Circle? Before she knows it, the Circle is involved in politics and she floats an idea that maybe participation in the Circle should be mandatory. Then people would be forced to vote, to pay taxes, to be watched.
The Circle is a most excellent look at the potential of social media to take over and our own participation in the demise of privacy in the interest of transparency. Everyone should read it! Also the book is really pretty so it will make an excellent addition to your home library.