In followers, as she has gained millions, than with

In the book “The Circle”, by Dave
Eggers, he mocks the norms and values that have come from the new age of social
media and internet. For example, he attacks the culture of social networks, by
showing how most interactions between people don’t happen in person, but rather
online, in a network where not many of these people have met in person. Since
this book was written when social media was becoming exponentially more
popular, it shows the more disturbing side of online life and the psychological
effects that came with it. Also, it is simple to gain hundreds of online followers/friends,
so by doing this, these networks have persuaded people to appreciate their
online connections with other people more than their actual, close
relationships with people in real life. During the book, the main character Mae
starts to get closer connections with her online followers, as she has gained
millions, than with her best friend Annie Allerton. Even though Mae actually
hasn’t actually met any of her followers, her friendship with those online
people have become more important to her than her relationship with Annie. The
two eventually start to separate and become less friendly. So as a result of
social media and other influential networks, this technology has made humans rethink
the way they see relationships, whether they are real or not. “But the tools
you guys create actually manufacture unnaturally extreme social needs. No one
needs the level of contact you’re purveying. It improves nothing. It’s not
nourishing.”(Eggers 134).  Eggers
explains how people are now depending on these new networks. The Circle also explains
the lack of personal connections through the romantic relationship of Mae and
Francis. Following a date with Francis, Mae has already felt feelings of love
for him. As the book goes on, Mae finds herself shocked that she didn’t learn
much about the man she thought she loved. The author implies that this is
because of the network and internet has forced Mae not to become too deeply
connected with anyone she comes in contact with. Finally, the internet has made
people feel and unnecessary need for attention, and provided them with
communication all the time. The author shows that Mae and her friends cannot
deal with being alone by explaining how Mae feels a sadness in herself when not
connected with others. Like this, Eggers uses dark humor and exaggeration to
bring attention to these cultural issues.

 

Solitude- This motif is the one that
connects with observation as it is the other side to the story. At certain
points in the book, the programs executives inform Mae Holland that having
solitude and privacy is harmful and hazardous. “Secrets are lies, sharing is
caring, privacy is theft” (Eggers, ) is one of Eamon Bailey’s sayings. This
connects observation and the idea of totalitarianism to the fact that privacy
is vital to humans. Having moments to oneself is essential because they can be
significant to an individual. Humans without privacy, as shown through the
character Mae, can become uncertain and self-conscious. The company claims that
having privacy is an untouchable power. For example, Mae kayaking by herself
gives her a chance to be separated from the world, and relaxes her by bringing
her belief in herself. “She guessed at it all, what might live, moving
purposefully or drifting aimlessly, under the deep water around her, but she didn’t
think too much about any of it. It was enough to be aware of the million permutations
possible around her, and take comfort in knowing she would not, and really could
not, know much at all.” (Eggers, 372). The Circle hears about Mae’s joy for
kayaking and understand the “dangers” that it could bring. They then force her
to share through the network about her kayaking trips, which ruins the solitude
of her alone time. Following these events, Mae becomes less confident after she
is put under surveillance. Now, that she has no time to herself, she feels that
she is relying on others for comfort and acceptance, resulting in her being
more deprived. The author also claims people can be a part of healthy
relationships when they are able to be away from each other. One example is
when Annie willingly publicizes her families past history for a program she
joined. She later found out the program had given out knowledge of her parents
seeing a man drown and not saving him. Following this, Annie can not view her
parents the way she used to, leading to her thinking about them less and less,
to a point where she doesn’t wonder about them. “It’s the worst story,” Annie
said. “His parents were such fuckups. I think there were like four or five kids
in the family, and Francis was youngest or second-youngest, and anyway the dad
was in jail, and the mom was on drugs, so the kids were sent all over the place.
I think one went to his aunt and uncle, and his two sisters were sent to some
foster home, and then they were abducted from there. I guess there was some
doubt if they were, you know, given or sold to the murderers.” (Eggers, 58). Here,
Annie explains how this knowledge of Francis changed the way she thought about
him, even though she didn’t want to think of him differently. Annie now
understands that it is hard to notice the reputation of people you know once
you have learned something about them you wish you didn’t. Only privacy is what
can keep this from happening to someone like Annie because of the things that
were revealed. The Circle believes that having all information about someone is
unnecessary, but cannot be alone with their thoughts too much, which is a
violation of people like Mae and Annie’s privacy.

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Perfection in society-

 

Observation/Surveillance-
Surveillance is also a recurring motif of The Circle. During the book, The
Circle explains how certain programs have resulted in the majority of
technology and people being put under constant observation. While that is
happening, the Circle’s important people like Eamon Bailey, encourage the idea
of surveillance and that it is beneficial to society and provides insight.
However, Bailey’s opinion on surveillance is that if you are truthful in your
identity, then there is nothing to be afraid of. The Circle shows how private
observation is a violation of independence and the rights of the people. It
also portrays how constant observation ruins human interaction as people become
more aware of what they are saying. Surveillance causes people to act to do things
they aren’t used to rather than living without judgement. “Mae drank it down.
It was viscous and cold. “Okay, you just ingested the sensor that will
connect to your wrist monitor. It was in that glass.” The doctor punched
Mae’s shoulder playfully.”(Eggers,   Eggers implies that the importance of
real-life interaction is that it is impulsive and unplanned and that this is
lost when they act in ways to satisfy those watching them. One example is how
Mae becomes less connected with her long-time friend Annie. The relationship
between them becomes weak and detached, since Mae’s followers have become more
of a priority for her. Not only does this constant surveillance change
behavior, it restricts freedom as well. By enhancing the elements of
observation, The Circle makes its consumers go back to the past ways of living
a boring and dull life. Mae is a good example of this. As she becomes more
attached to her followers, Mae starts to be addicted to them. When she isn’t
connected with them, it causes her stress and other negative feelings because
The Circle has influenced her into being a part of their dishonorable program.
This results in her losing her independence and freedom. This is scary for Mae
because she thinks she doesn’t realize that the Circle is influencing her into
acting this way. The Circle never defines why they use the power of
surveillance but Eggers implies that they want to abuse their power to become
an organization that can watch anyone in the world.

 

Totalitarianism- the Circle portrays
an autocratic/fascist society from the view of people being led into its
authority. Since the book is written in Mae’s point of view, it is hard to
understand what the Circle is going to do to become a world power, because she
is just one of the citizens of the totalitarian program, so she is deemed
irrelevant. By using Mae, the author explains the important parts of a
totalitarian program. Eggers writes about the concepts of encouragement,
peer-pressure, and conformity. The book’s perception of conformity is that it
must happen over a long period of time. For example, Mae is steadily drawn
toward the beliefs of the program. At the beginning, Mae is excited to
understand the simple beliefs of the Circle, but hesitant about the more
totalitarian concepts. She is with her family and likes to go out in her kayak
by herself, rather than being online and posting about what she’s doing.
Throughout the book, Mae’s advisors and coworkers manipulate her so she does
not hang out with her family as much, but is more involved on the network with
her media, and that her priority is the Circle. Mae gains knowledge of the fact
that the company want to insert devices into humans to inspect people’s movement.
She does not hesitate because it was for children to be safer from human traffickers.
Once she learns that they have planned to monitor all people to attempt to command
them, Mae does not change her opinion on them. While the organization for the dictator-like
program is happening, Mae realizes there’s no turning back because of how involved
she now is in the organization. “He genuinely believes that the answers to every
life question can be found among other people. He truly believes that openness,
that complete and uninterrupted access among all humans will help the world.
That this is what the world’s been waiting for, the moment when every soul is
connected. (Eggers, ) Here, the key to totalitarianism is explained. Having humans
connected is when the idea of being a totalitarian society becomes complete. If
Mae knew of the Circle’s intentions since the beginning, she probably would not
have stayed with them. At this point, she has conformed to the policies of the Circle.