It was my friend A’s turn to pick our month’s Book Club selection, and she went with The Circle. I’d never read Dave Eggers before (though A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius has been languishing on my shelf for a few years now), but I was highly curious about the premise. After reading it, I can only say: WOW. Our digital world is scary.
Mae is naive, impressionable, and eager to please. She gets a job at The Circle, a social media networking corporation, through her best college friend Annie. Mae quickly rises in the ranks and discovers the depths to which The Circle invests itself in our daily lives. Social interactions change through thumbs up, hearts, zinging, and even “ranking” as a prolific user. Mae does not realize to what extent she has been sucked into the cyberworld enveloped by The Circle until she’s been fully submerged.
I try to be judicious about my involvement in social media. I am careful about my privacy settings on Facebook, I am not on Twitter, I don’t really do Tumblr or Reddit, and my blog is not linked to my real-life name. Still: the way social media tracks and consumes us is frightening. I remember once looking up a bridesmaid dress on David’s Bridal website to show The Chancellor what I will be wearing in an upcoming wedding. The next time I logged into Facebook, I was “suggested” to like David’s Bridal. Creepy. Though nothing compares to the time I was “suggested” an egg-freezing cocktail hour in the major city near me. Um, no. 29 I may be, career-oriented I may be, but desperate to freeze my eggs? No. My point is: social media is trying to “get to know” us, but it’s starting to invade our privacy. The Circle made me think about my choices online, and wonder how I can try to preserve some bit of myself from the impersonal world wide web.