We have enjoyed for years the connectivity of Facebook, the rich trove of information from Google, the technological marvels of Apple, and the carefully curated views of Snapchat and Instagram. These marvels have made our world smaller, allowing us to see the world like never before. Everything is shared easily and nothing is as private as it once was, we now live in a culture where moments have to be caught on camera, things have to be liked, loved, and snapped up. We live in a world where our culture is all about instant gratification and acceptance and Dave Eggers is well aware of that.
In The Circle, Dave Eggers takes every piece of our present social media culture and combines it into the eponymous company. He also takes the best bits of Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon’s company culture and puts it into The Circle, the most enviable company the world has ever known. With everything in place, he puts creates Mae Holland, the average Jane with no technical know-how but is sharp and happens to have good connections. Through Mae, readers begin to explore the world of the The Circle.
At first it is seemingly perfect, everything is efficient, fast, perfect. It’s everyone dream company and as a reader, I would have to say that I wouldn’t mind working for such a company where all the things I like are curated to my own specifications, everything I need are provided for me and are at my fingertips. But at some point in the novel, Dave Eggers slowly unravels the mystery of this perfect company, layer by layer The Circle is unwrapped and exposed for what it truly is.
The Circle is a novel that satirizes and parodies our current obsession with social media. It takes all the bits of Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat and bombards us with all those experiences in tight uber-social media application. But that is just one part of the company, as the novel progresses it becomes increasingly clear that working isn’t the main priority, it is about bringing your social media presence higher, the more likes and loves makes you more socially acceptable. But it doesn’t stop there, the world must be transparent, every facet of your life, your family’s life, and all the moments you once thought are private are no longer acceptable. In the world that Mae lives in, Sharing is Caring, Privacy is Theft, and Secrets are Lies.
By the end of the book, I was visibly annoyed at the social intrusion of this company. Then it dawned on me that this is the world we live in. My Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are curated to what I want to see and enjoy. My Amazon.com account takes stock of everything I’ve ever liked and wished and gives me recommendations based on what I have purchased. Google knows exactly when my flight is, where my accommodations are, and what places I will be heading. And seeing all of this has made me acutely aware of the pervasive presence of social media. In conclusion, Dave Eggers has done an absolutely wonderful job of driving a point, exploring themes on privacy, identity, and collectivity.
In the end, The Circle was able to accomplish what it was suppose to do. Dave Eggers has made his reader aware of the pervasive presence of tech companies, he has shown the line that has become a gray area, when privacy might one day become non-existent, when our worth is measured by the metrics found in some internet site, when our entire being is monitored, evaluated, and measured for all the world to see and gawk at. On the other hand, the novel lacks a good solid ending. Having spent a large part showing readers the power of The Circle, it abruptly ends, save for the good twist. The resolution was rushed and unfulfilling. In other words, the novel was totally anticlimactic. What could have been a good book was ruined by that last bit. As a whole, the novel needed another 100 pages or so to really have that satisfying end.