TBTW: The Circle by Dave Eggers
I’m instituting a new rule for myself: no social media on weekends. Because I don’t want to turn into Mae from Dave Eggers’ The Circle. I don’t want to lose sight of the difference between the real world and the internet.
Imagine a company that replaces Google’s search engine, Instagram, Flickr, and Shutterfly for photos, Facebook & Twitter as the social media platform. Imagine an internet where no one is anonymous, so everyone can be held accountable for what they type. How great would it be if there were cameras on the beach so surfers could decide to go surfing or not from the safety and comfort of their bed when they first wake up? Or a system to track the location of children so we can give them freedom but we know they won’t get lost?
But not everything designed with good intentions are limited. A few cameras intended for a certain subset of the population becomes a massive, publicly accessible security system with no filters. Needing to ensure identities online allows accountability, but doesn’t it also limit whistle blowers’ freedom and safety? A system to track children doesn’t necessarily stop at age 18. When voting happens through this massive online system to simplify the process and to obtain higher – nay, 100% – turnout, does that logically mean all eligible voters must have a circle account?
At what point does everyone choosing to opt-in mean no one can choose to opt out? Dave Eggers uses incredible prose – invading and revealing the minds of his character – to force readers to question the next logical step of the social media and online systems we already have in place today.
I can’t very well write a review of a Dave Eggers book without considering the fact that I despised the last book of his I read. As I mentioned here, I am a fan of Eggers. He takes his work to such extremes, builds the characters into such truth, that I can’t help but love them and hate them like real people I meet in real life. If there isn’t greater praise than hating, loving, praying for, or cursing a character as often as I do with Eggers’ work, then I don’t know what else I can say.
The Circle clocks in at 491 pages, but it took me just about 48 hours to read start to finish. t is an important work to read, and an important idea to consider for anyone online (aka you! Since you’re here, reading this…)