TheCircle, written by Dave Eggers, mocks the norms and parts ofculture that have emerged out of the time period of internet and social networks.One example is he attacks the culture of these networks, by showing how less andless interactions between people are happening in person, but instead online,in a network where not a lot of these people have met in real life. During the writingof this novel, social media was reinventing itself and popularity rose.
As a result,the book shows the darker side of online life and the subconscious effects on people.It has also become much easier to acquire thousands of followers or friends online.By doing this, these networks have persuaded people to appreciate their onlineconnections with other people more than their friendships and connections withpeople in reality. The main character Mae begins to get closer connections withher online followers, as she has gained millions, than with her best friendAnnie. Mae actually hasn’t come face to face with any of her online viewers, buther connections with her followers have become more important to her than herrelationship with Annie.
The two eventually start to separate and become lessfriendly. So as a result of social media and other influential networks, this technologyhas made humans rethink the way they see relationships, whether they are realor not. “But the tools you guys create actually manufacture unnaturally extremesocial needs. No one needs the level of contact you’re purveying. It improvesnothing. It’s not nourishing.”(Eggers, 134).
Eggers explains how people are nowdepending on these new networks. TheCircle also explains the lack of personal connections through the romanticrelationship of Mae and Francis. Following a date with Francis, Mae has alreadyfelt feelings of love for him. As the book goes continues, Mae finds herself stunnedshe didn’t learn much as much about Francis as she would have liked. “Again Maehad the feeling of being clubbed with information that complicated her feelingsabout Francis, who seemed so sweet one moment and so strange and unaltered thenext.” (Eggers, 117). Her ability to gain information about him was limited, leavingher question her feelings for him.
Theauthor implies that this is because of the network has forced Mae not to becometoo deeply connected with people she creates relationships with. Finally, the internethas made people feel a demand for observation, and provided them withcommunication for 24 hours a day. The author shows that Mae and her friendscannot deal with being alone by explaining how Mae feels a sadness in herselfwhen not connected with others. Like this, Eggers uses dark humor andexaggeration to bring awareness to these difficulties. Solitude- This motif connects with thesurveillance one as it is shows the other side to the story.
At certain pointsin the book, the programs executives inform Mae Holland that having solitudeand privacy is harmful and hazardous. “Secrets are lies, sharing is caring,privacy is theft” (Eggers, 308) is one of Eamon Bailey’s sayings. This connectsobservation and the idea of totalitarianism to the fact that privacy is vitalto 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 uncomfortable with themselves. Thecompany claims that having privacy is a very significant right. For example,Mae kayaking by herself gives her a chance to be separated from the world, andrelaxes her by bringing her belief in herself.
“She guessed at it all, whatmight live, moving purposefully or drifting aimlessly, under the deep wateraround her, but she didn’t think too much about any of it. It was enough to beaware of the million permutations possible around her, and take comfort inknowing she would not, and really could not, know much at all.” (Eggers, 274).The Circle hears about Mae’s joy for kayaking and understand the “dangers” thatit could bring. They then force her to share through the network about herkayaking trips, which ruins the solitude of her alone time.
Following theseevents, Mae is less confident after she is put under surveillance. Since she hasno 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 apart 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 aprogram she joined. She later found out the program had given out knowledge ofher parents seeing a man drown and not saving him.
Following this, Annie can notview her parents the way she once did, causing to her think about them less, toa 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. Totalitarianism- The Circle portrays an autocratic/fascist society from the view ofpeople being led into its authority. Since the book is written in Mae’s pointof view, it is hard to understand what the Circle is going to do to become aworld power, because she is just one of the citizens of the totalitarianprogram, so she is deemed irrelevant. By using Mae, the author explains theimportant parts of a totalitarian program. Eggers writes about the concepts ofencouragement, peer-pressure, and conformity.
The book’s perception ofconformity is that it must happen over a long period of time. For example, Maeis steadily drawn toward the beliefs of the program. At the beginning, Mae isexcited to understand the simple beliefs of the Circle, but hesitant about themore totalitarian concepts. She is with her family and likes to go out in herkayak 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 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, 488) Here, the solution to a totalitarian society is explained.Having humans connected is when the idea of being a totalitarian society becomescomplete. If Mae knew of the Circle’s intentions since the beginning, she probablywould not have stayed with them. At this point, she has conformed to the policiesof the Circle.
Observation/Surveillance-Surveillance is also a recurring motif of TheCircle. During the book, The Circle explains how certain programs haveresulted in the majority of technology and people being put under constantobservation. While that is happening, the Circle’s important people like EamonBailey, encourage the idea of surveillance and that it is beneficial to societyand provides insight. However, Bailey’s opinion on surveillance is that if youare truthful in your identity, then there is nothing to be afraid of.
The Circleshows how private observation is violating independence and rights for people.It also portrays how constant observation ruins human communication as peoplebecome more aware of what they are saying. Surveillance causes people to act todo things they aren’t used to rather than living without judgement. “Mae drankit down.
It was viscous and cold. “Okay, you just ingested the sensor thatwill connect to your wrist monitor. It was in that glass.” The doctorpunched Mae’s shoulder playfully.”(Eggers, 157). Eggers implies that theimportance of real-life interaction is that it is impulsive and unplanned andthat this is lost when they act in ways to satisfy those watching them. Oneexample is how Mae becomes less connected with her long-time friend Annie.
Therelationship between them becomes weak and detached, since Mae’s followers havebecome more of a priority for her. Not only does this constant surveillancechange behavior, 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’s an example of this. Once she becomes more consumedby her followers, Mae starts to be addicted to them. When she isn’t connectedwith them, it causes her stress and other negative feelings because The Circlehas influenced her into being a part of their dishonorable program. Thisresults 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.