I heard about The Circle by Dave Eggers at Bookstravaganza and being a social media lover, I knew I had to read it. This novel is 491 pages of utter brilliance, it is the modern-day 1984 by George Orwell and it depicts everything that can go wrong with social media.
When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, 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. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in America—even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.
I related to Mae on various levels, I am also a recent graduate, age twenty-four, with a naive mind and an uncontrollable desperation to make my way in the world. But, thankfully, I’m not exactly like Mae. As I turned the well-written pages of this novel, I realized more and more how crazy it all sounded, how silly Mae is, and how scary the world would be if we were constantly monitored the way The Circle wants us to be. The Circle’s ideologies literally creeped me out and it was interesting to see the reactions of various characters every time a new slogan was coined. Mercer you’re brilliant, Francis you’re creepy, Annie you need help girl, Mae you’re so so silly, and Kalden… I’ll let you form your own opinions about him!
I love social media, I share information many times a day, I have a Twitter account, a Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads, Pinterest etc. etc. I also write for this blog and share a lot of my life on here. HOWEVER, there are many things that I keep private, there are many things that I don’t share simply because they’re mine and I don’t have to share them if I don’t want to. I believe in privacy, I believe in communication, and although I love expressing my thoughts in 140 character or less, I much prefer face-to-face interaction. The Circle reminded me of all this. This novel reminded me that some moments are precious and the more you share, the more you document them, the less precious they become.
Every person I know should read this novel. It will scare you, it will give you goosebumps, it will actually upset you at some points, it will keep you on the edge of your seat, and it will definitely leave you feeling a little uneasy.
** Synopsis from the Random House of Canada website **