Technology for good and wonderful purposes is good and wonderful, right? That is the jumping off point for The Circle, by Dave Eggers. The Circle is a company that has figured out a way to link every bit of online life into one package. Banking, blogging, buying—it’s all connected. No anonymity online—everything is completely polite and nice, as well as totally secure. The company has created or invested in other awesome projects—and all of them are things that Make Life Better. Who doesn’t want to eliminate child abductions? Or, make voter registration super easy—AND immune to any fraud! Or map the entire Amazon rainforest. Or, or, or, or. The list of what the Circle is doing is endless and SO COOL AND INSANELY AWESOME.
Mae Holland is lucky, lucky, lucky to get a job with The Circle. She starts in Customer Experience but quickly begins moving up the company ladder. She becomes, in Circle parlance, “transparent." This is where the book starts to get creepy and disturbing.
I should probably mention here that I am a bit of a Luddite. I don’t watch TV, don’t have a smart phone, and really don’t get Twitter. I’ve never taken a selfie or sent a text message. I enjoy social media more than I thought I would but still find much of it to be full of over-sharing and mindless navel-gazing. But I’m also a librarian, so I love the way that technology has just exploded information. I love being able to have so much knowledge literally at my fingertips. I love that technology has meant so many dreams are now possible, or within reach of possible.
But when does technology go too far? Where do you draw the line? Can you even draw the line, or have things gone too far to be stopped? When do benevolent advances turn into something...else?