The Circle by Dave Eggers
What a profoundly terrifying book. I feared for Mae’s sanity the moment they decided to add more than 2 screens to her work space. To be honest, I found it a little bit unbelievable that there can be so many people that naive about the world The Circle was proposing. But then when I really think about it, how many of us are always on social media now? Reading this book almost made me deactivate Facebook, that’s how scared I was.
Some of the benefits proposed in this technological dystopian novel are actually available now to a degree, and we’re able to maintain these with signing our souls over to the entities offering these services.
For example, as a Canadian living in Australia, I had my entire immigration processed online. I didn’t have to go down to a run down office building to wait in line or do face to face interviews. I’m sure others with more complicated situations than mine would still have to do so, but I did not.
Same thing with the annual income tax reporting in Australia–it’s all online. I don’t have to use an accountant and I don’t have to go to a tax office (we did have to go visit a run down office to speak with the IRS when we were doing taxes in the States).
And both these services were available to me by simply providing a couple of pieces of basic identity information. I didn’t have to install a chip in myself or wear a camera around my neck 24/7.
Eggers seems to have taken the current obsession with social media, with being heard and seen, to the extreme. His work with The Circle reminds me of A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift (for those of you too lazy to read about it, it’s a satirical essay about eating offspring from poor families in order to reduce poverty).
Another book I read from Eggers A Hologram for the King. I also enjoyed the social commentary Eggers was hinting at in that novel. Eggers is definitely an author I want to read more of.