Last night, I finished The Circle by Dave Eggers. After reading the review in Entertainment Weekly (B+) and the premise, I was instantly intrigued. Finishing it before bed was not the best idea. It kept me awake for a bit, thinking and absorbing.
The Circle is the story of Mae Holland, a young woman who has graduated college and found herself stuck in her hometown working a dead-end job at a utilities company. Her dear friend and former college roommate Annie helps her get a job at The Circle, an internet company that has quickly become the leader of all matters in technology and the world wide web. Mae falls in love with the company and it’s sprawling, beautiful campus quickly, even as she works a smaller job in Customer Experience, helping answer queries with businesses who do work through The Circle.
As her time at The Circle goes on, she finds herself landing in her boss’s office and HR for reasons unrelated to her work with the businesses; they are concerned with her lack of participation in campus activities and presence within the InnerCircle and OuterCircle, where she should be joining groups, smiling and frowning at people’s “zings”, and putting herself out into the world via social media. It’s not long before her tiny cubicle is loaded with more than 6 screens to control both her work duties and, more importantly, her communication.
It’s hard not to feel a bit of fear when reading this book. The more transparency is expected from her, the more she gives in to an almost cult-like way of behaving. Still, considering the way we are in terms of social media and technology and smart phones and computers, it doesn’t seem that implausible. For instance, I’m currently blogging this onto a personal little space I’ve carved out for myself on Blogger, I’ll tweet and Facebook the link to people, and my iPhone is sitting next to me, notifying me about the likes on the most recent picture I posted onto Instagram. Recounting all of that, which has been happening in a matter of minutes, it’s hard not to believe that something like this book, which has way more going on in it than I’d want to give away, could or would happen.
I love the fact that we can make ourselves heard via the internet and technological devices. It’s a great way to inspire yourself, to find things you love and to share them with others. But when do we go too far? And can we go too far?
I loved this book. It was a page-turner, and I found it hard to put down.
If you’re interested in social media like I am, I would highly recommend it.