If “Her” showed us how companionship with computers can be, “The Circle” by Dave Eggers describes how we maybe already half way there. Albeit “The Circle” tackles a slightly more specific issue of how, a brilliant but relentlessly pervasive internet technology company ( The Circle) is ever evading the privacy of an ordinary Joe, that is not obsessed or fascinated by the power of the internet or social media. Metaphorically speaking, “The Circle” is very much like the story of “The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf”, the hope being that we find that smart little third pig sooner than later. The one who will be able to withstand the real revolution that is the Internet, or at least be smart enough to use it to his or her advantage.
I’ve have heard of people choosing, maybe even wanting (desperately) to live off the radar, and I thought why in the world would they want to do that. What would we do without constant access to texting, emailing, facebook’ing, instagram ‘ing, what’s app’ing, twitter’ing and whatever the next big thing is. How could we live, could we live? If there is one book that has radically altered my view of the internet and digital landscape it is this one. “The Circle” shows you exactly how tethering close we are to the brink of collapse, to the edge of madness, to the border of insanity, and to the total loss of privacy. Does it sound darkly dystopian? It is. I am convinced our future really is. One quote in the book, that caught my attention and in my mind is the essence of Egger’s message, is this (said in Mae Holland, the book’s protagonist’s words)
“If there is a locked door, I start to make up all kinds of stories about what might be behind it. I feel like it’s some kind of a secret. And it leads me to making up lies. But if all doors are open, physically and metaphorically, there’s only one truth”.
No secrets means no lies. No closed doors means only one truth. The bigger question is are we ready for this truth? Are we ready to put ourselves out there, for everyone to know what we are doing, why we are doing it and what we are thinking as we are doing it. Are we ready to be completely transparent to the world around us? Only time will tell.
If you want to understand what the internet is doing to the world, “The Circle” is definitely the book for you and if you don’t want to touch another computer or smartphone again, I wouldn’t blame you.
(image via goodreads.com)