As a millennial, I grew up with technology. When I was a toddler, I learned how to shove a floppy disc into the computer tower and play a game that involved camping dinosaurs (I cannot for the life of me remember what that game was called) on the Windows 95 operating system that the whole family shared. I installed AOL on that same computer using a CD, and crossed my fingers that nobody called while I was instant messaging my friends. The Yahoo! ads sang to me, and MySpace Tom was my first friend on social media.
When it came time to worry about things like getting Catfished or privacy issues, I laughed it off. I saw posts where people would have their kids hold up signs saying, “I live in Spokane, WA! Comment your location on this post, and see how far we travel!” People would share their location as Mumbai or London, and it was a tactic to scare kids into filter who they added as friends and not make things public. I paid no attention, if we’re being honest.
The Circle by Dave Eggers shows the issue with my nonchalance. The story is a modern 1984, and it follows Mae as she gains employment with The Circle, a technology company that would be the equivalent of working for Google or Facebook. She is awe-struck by their developments when it comes to sharing your life, even though it’s deemed mandatory. Bailey, a founding member of The Circle, explains to her that her memories should be shared as learning experiences for others. Why wouldn’t you want to share that you saw a seal while you were kayaking? It’s selfish to keep that knowledge to yourself. Mae buys into this so much that, not only does she submit to being broadcast live almost 24/7, but she also wears a camera around her neck to her followers don’t miss a second as they work to “complete The Circle”.
This book dives into issues with work, family, and friends that are all very relevant to where we are as a society with social media. I’ve seen this book condemned as a scare tactic and unrealistic, but it’s really not that far off. Think about it, we Instagram our food, we check in on Facebook, and we monitor Snapchat for minute updates of people’s lives. I’m not saying I’m anti-social media; in fact, I have all of the above-mentioned platforms, but I do believe we’re in a society of over-sharing that could be detrimental.
I didn’t mean for this review to turn into me preaching on my soap box, but this book has a message. When I saw parallels with Bailey and former bosses, it was honestly a wake-up call. I was in a situation where I had to add my boss on social media, and she’d text me all hours of the night. She wanted to know where I was, what I was doing and why I wasn’t focusing on my “career” while I was out of the office. It turned into such an issue, that I quit without looking back, but it was like being a frog in water. It took a while for me to see the impact that amount of over-sharing was having on my life, but sadly some people just get boiled to death.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who lives in the modern world because Eggers tells a captivating story, and I don’t want to end up like Mae or Mercer.