Saturday, October 25, 2014

THE CIRCLE: Is THIS What The Future Holds?

I could NOT put down THE CIRCLE!

What would happen if Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Paypal, Twitter, the United States government and every other entity that has a piece of your online presence were merged into one picture of you which you could not opt out of and would be harnessed for profit? That’s the premise in the delightfully chilling, modern-day Orwellian book, The Circle by Dave Eggers.

The Circle’s mottoes, instituted via methods akin to brainwashing, include “Sharing Is Caring,” “Secrets Are Lies,” and “Privacy Is Theft.”

Mae Holland is hired to work for this thinly-disguised version of Google. At first, it seems utopian as The Circle links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. Quickly, she finds herself “required” to attend company events, take surveys so companies can collect her “likes” and “dislikes” and post online to bump up her ratings in the Circle community. The Circle’s mottoes, instituted in methods akin to brainwashing, include “Sharing Is Caring,” “Secrets Are Lies,” and “Privacy Is Theft.”

Mae becomes part of The Circle’s movement toward “Completion” in which every piece of information about the individual, including those of one’s ancestors, is made available to the company. Will she lose her soul to this cult-like organization which is quickly gaining Internet supremacy?

The book is fascinating because every day this Dystopian reality looms larger.

It asks the reader to consider what the consequences are, good and bad, of further centralization of information services and social networking with the voluntary surrender of privacy spun in totalitarian terms as the ultimate act of honesty. Online, every thought, transaction, action and experience we have is stored by some corporation. The Circle resonates because this scenario is completely plausible as we actively give away our information (and that of our children).

Author Egger’s protagonist isn’t the brightest or most well-developed character. There were times that I truly did not like her. She submits to the forces of The Circle far too willingly without thought to the repercussions even as she feels a part of her resisting. Similarly, parts of the book are far too “preachy” – I get it. By being online, we, too, may be giving away part of our souls.
Still, I COULD NOT PUT THIS BOOK DOWN! It is so thought-provoking, suspenseful, and creepy. At times, it made me consider shutting down my social media accounts while forcing me to question the positive value of having data on the Web – forever.

Is THE CIRCLE right? Is Privacy a form of theft because others cannot learn from our experiences?

Read it and see if The Circle doesn’t compel YOU to deeply consider your online presence!


Please note that this review first appeared on  

1 comment:

  1. What an exciting book. Looking forward to reading this.


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