As technology continues to advance, criticism has followed close behind, with much of the hullabaloo regarding social media; particularly, as some may argue, the downfalls of society becoming more engrossed by its every facet as we slowly but surely lose connection to not only the outside world, but also ourselves. Just as George Orwell discussed it in “1984,” Dave Eggers reveals a new Big Brother in his latest novel, “The Circle.”
Mae Holland, our protagonist, is a bright but naïve young woman who enters the Circle with ambitions of a life free of deprecating cubicles and humdrum. Luckily, her dream has seemingly come true during her first visit to the company: “My God, Mae thought. It’s heaven. […] Mae stopped in front of the main door, standing below the logo etched into the glass above. Though the company was less than six years old, its name and logo — a circle surrounding a knitted grid, with a small ‘c’ in the center — were already among the best-known in the world.”
As readers follow along, Mae delves into the advantages of working for the Circle, including but not limited to stat- of-the-art housing and fitness facilities; restaurants and relaxation spots offered to her elite working community. In the beginning everything seems amazing, but before long she begins to notice that things are not quite what they seem.
The story soon becomes one of fright, as the Circle community has failed to separate reality from fantasy — their lives slowly exterminating the need for human connection. But there are no fingers to point, as our antihero is a faceless opponent. Nevertheless, everywhere one goes, the Circle’s motto can be found: “Sharing is Caring.” Yet, the motto is far from helpful in any sense of the word. Rather, it becomes the ultimate violation of privacy, as the company’s mission proves much more sinister.
Similar to social outlets, the Circle implores its members to share the most intimate of details with the world, each person’s worth becoming defined by views, likes and comments. But, the action of being plugged into every venue online results in a disconnection to Mae’s life in the physical world. While Mae once perceived the Circle to be utopia, Eggers demonstrates what happens when we step away to see the bigger picture. Over the course of the book, it appears to transform into a dystopian critique of our current social media relationship, ultimately emphasizing that each of us should be more aware of what we are sharing with the world.
‘The Circle’ by Dave Eggers Rating: W W W V