In the book “The Circle”, by DaveEggers, he mocks the norms and values that have come from the new age of socialmedia and internet. For example, he attacks the culture of social networks, byshowing how most interactions between people don’t happen in person, but ratheronline, in a network where not many of these people have met in person. Sincethis book was written when social media was becoming exponentially morepopular, it shows the more disturbing side of online life and the psychologicaleffects 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 theironline connections with other people more than their actual, closerelationships with people in real life.
During the book, the main character Maestarts to get closer connections with her online followers, as she has gainedmillions, than with her best friend Annie Allerton. Even though Mae actuallyhasn’t actually met any of her followers, her friendship with those onlinepeople have become more important to her than her relationship with Annie. Thetwo eventually start to separate and become less friendly. So as a result ofsocial media and other influential networks, this technology has made humans rethinkthe way they see relationships, whether they are real or not.
“But the toolsyou guys create actually manufacture unnaturally extreme social needs. No oneneeds the level of contact you’re purveying. It improves nothing. It’s notnourishing.”(Eggers 134). Eggersexplains how people are now depending on these new networks. The Circle also explainsthe lack of personal connections through the romantic relationship of Mae andFrancis. Following a date with Francis, Mae has already felt feelings of lovefor him.
As the book goes on, Mae finds herself shocked that she didn’t learnmuch about the man she thought she loved. The author implies that this isbecause of the network and internet has forced Mae not to become too deeplyconnected with anyone she comes in contact with. Finally, the internet has madepeople feel and unnecessary need for attention, and provided them withcommunication all the time. The author shows that Mae and her friends cannotdeal with being alone by explaining how Mae feels a sadness in herself when notconnected with others. Like this, Eggers uses dark humor and exaggeration tobring attention to these cultural issues.
Solitude- This motif is the one thatconnects with observation as it is the other side to the story. At certainpoints in the book, the programs executives inform Mae Holland that havingsolitude and privacy is harmful and hazardous. “Secrets are lies, sharing iscaring, privacy is theft” (Eggers, ) is one of Eamon Bailey’s sayings.
Thisconnects observation and the idea of totalitarianism to the fact that privacyis vital to humans. Having moments to oneself is essential because they can besignificant to an individual. Humans without privacy, as shown through thecharacter Mae, can become uncertain and self-conscious. The company claims thathaving privacy is an untouchable power. For example, Mae kayaking by herselfgives her a chance to be separated from the world, and relaxes her by bringingher belief in herself.
“She guessed at it all, what might live, movingpurposefully or drifting aimlessly, under the deep water around her, but she didn’tthink too much about any of it. It was enough to be aware of the million permutationspossible around her, and take comfort in knowing she would not, and really couldnot, know much at all.” (Eggers, 372). The Circle hears about Mae’s joy forkayaking and understand the “dangers” that it could bring. They then force herto share through the network about her kayaking trips, which ruins the solitudeof her alone time.
Following these events, Mae becomes less confident after sheis put under surveillance. Now, that she has no time to herself, she feels thatshe is relying on others for comfort and acceptance, resulting in her beingmore deprived. The author also claims people can be a part of healthyrelationships when they are able to be away from each other. One example iswhen Annie willingly publicizes her families past history for a program shejoined. She later found out the program had given out knowledge of her parentsseeing a man drown and not saving him. Following this, Annie can not view herparents 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,” Anniesaid.
“His parents were such fuckups. I think there were like four or five kidsin the family, and Francis was youngest or second-youngest, and anyway the dadwas 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 somefoster home, and then they were abducted from there. I guess there was somedoubt 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 abouthim, even though she didn’t want to think of him differently. Annie nowunderstands that it is hard to notice the reputation of people you know onceyou have learned something about them you wish you didn’t.
Only privacy is whatcan keep this from happening to someone like Annie because of the things thatwere revealed. The Circle believes that having all information about someone isunnecessary, but cannot be alone with their thoughts too much, which is aviolation of people like Mae and Annie’s privacy. Perfection in society- Observation/Surveillance-Surveillance is also a recurring motif of The Circle. During the book, TheCircle explains how certain programs have resulted in the majority oftechnology and people being put under constant observation. While that ishappening, the Circle’s important people like Eamon Bailey, encourage the ideaof surveillance and that it is beneficial to society and provides insight.
However, Bailey’s opinion on surveillance is that if you are truthful in youridentity, then there is nothing to be afraid of. The Circle shows how privateobservation is a violation of independence and the rights of the people. Italso portrays how constant observation ruins human interaction as people becomemore aware of what they are saying. Surveillance causes people to act to do thingsthey 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 willconnect to your wrist monitor.
It was in that glass.” The doctor punchedMae’s shoulder playfully.”(Eggers, Eggers implies that the importance ofreal-life interaction is that it is impulsive and unplanned and that this islost when they act in ways to satisfy those watching them. One example is howMae becomes less connected with her long-time friend Annie.
The relationshipbetween them becomes weak and detached, since Mae’s followers have become moreof a priority for her. Not only does this constant surveillance changebehavior, it restricts freedom as well. By enhancing the elements ofobservation, The Circle makes its consumers go back to the past ways of livinga boring and dull life. Mae is a good example of this. As she becomes moreattached to her followers, Mae starts to be addicted to them.
When she isn’tconnected with them, it causes her stress and other negative feelings becauseThe 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 Maebecause she thinks she doesn’t realize that the Circle is influencing her intoacting this way. The Circle never defines why they use the power ofsurveillance but Eggers implies that they want to abuse their power to becomean organization that can watch anyone in the world. Totalitarianism- the Circle portraysan autocratic/fascist society from the view of people being led into itsauthority.
Since the book is written in Mae’s point of view, it is hard tounderstand what the Circle is going to do to become a world power, because sheis just one of the citizens of the totalitarian program, so she is deemedirrelevant. By using Mae, the author explains the important parts of atotalitarian program. Eggers writes about the concepts of encouragement,peer-pressure, and conformity. The book’s perception of conformity is that itmust happen over a long period of time. For example, Mae is steadily drawntoward the beliefs of the program. At the beginning, Mae is excited tounderstand the simple beliefs of the Circle, but hesitant about the moretotalitarian concepts. She is with her family and likes to go out in her kayakby herself, rather than being online and posting about what she’s doing.
Throughout the book, Mae’s advisors and coworkers manipulate her so she doesnot hang out with her family as much, but is more involved on the network withher media, and that her priority is the Circle. Mae gains knowledge of the factthat 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 commandthem, Mae does not change her opinion on them.
While the organization for the dictator-likeprogram is happening, Mae realizes there’s no turning back because of how involvedshe now is in the organization. “He genuinely believes that the answers to everylife 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 isconnected. (Eggers, ) Here, the key to totalitarianism is explained.
Having humansconnected is when the idea of being a totalitarian society becomes complete. IfMae knew of the Circle’s intentions since the beginning, she probably would nothave stayed with them. At this point, she has conformed to the policies of the Circle.