Currently Reading: The Circle

Dave Eggers is pretty hit or miss for me, so I was really pleasantly surprised to love this book.

Through her friend Annie, Mae gets a job with the best company in the world: The Circle.  They have a gorgeous, sprawling campus in the Bay Area, their employees are the best and brightest in their fields, and they are changing the world for the better.  What more could you want?

The Circle started based on an idea called TruYou, a program that allows users to have one username and password for all their online needs.  Internet anonymity was gone, as were the trolls.  People were more courteous and polite online, only saying on the internet things that they would say out loud.  This led to more and more ideas to better the world - having SeeChange cameras everywhere in order to prevent crimes and violence; inserting chips into children to stop abductions; even having politicians wear cameras constantly to provide total government transparency.

Slowly, but surely, Mae becomes completely enveloped within the company, eventually becoming one of the most popular employees, both within the company and out in the world.  She has thousands of followers and every message or smile she gets from them makes her even hungrier for more.  She can be better!

The one anomaly Mae finds at The Circle is a mysterious man named Kalden.  After a chance meeting, Mae seeks him out on social media, but she can find no trace of him.  Annie has never heard of him.  Kalden sporadically pops up now and then, but is never reachable, which drives Mae crazy.

How can someone stay hidden in this brave new world?  Where did Kalden come from and where does he go?  These questions stay with Mae, but she becomes too busy with her Circle life to dwell on them for too long.  She has followers to update and smiles to send.  While her real life collapses around her, her online persona becomes a celebrity.  Unfortunately, Mae can't see the difference.

As a somewhat-Luddite, I was obsessed with the ideas in this book.  How much technology is too much?  I'm a big believer in privacy and The Circle takes it all away, under the guise of protection and honesty.  When you spend all your time posting pictures online, commenting on others', "liking" things, is that really living?  Or is it a fake sense of living?  

These questions are ones that we should all ask ourselves.  And yes, I realize the irony of saying all this as a blogger who devotes some of her time to an online life.  

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