Friday, November 22, 2013
The Circle by Dave Eggers
Book: The Circle
Author: Dave Eggers
Recommended to: Everyone can gain something from this book.
The Circle was recommended to me by a sorority sister via Facebook. I love that, btw. I love getting recommendations from people that I haven't seen in a year or two and then the books turn out to be great. The Circle is one of those books that I loved to hate. I thought the characters were solid if somewhat flat, the story was fast moving, and Dave Eggers made his point.
This book starts by following Mae Holland through her first day of work at The Circle. A company that the reader eventually finds out is responsible for taking over the internet. The Circle hires only the youngest and brightest up and coming talent and Mae was recommended for a position there from her college roommate, Annie. Mae starts off in customer control where she answers consumer complaints and questions and eventually becomes a spokes person for the company.
The story evolves in such a way that small privacy infringements are explained away under the guise of making people more safe, or are explained as sharing information with those that cannot obtain the information and experience for themselves. For example, the leader of The Circle has a child with Cerebral Palsy and he insists that others share their experiences through video so that his son can see parts of the world that never would be possible with his disability.
Then of course the small, somewhat innocuous privacy infringements become more serious all under the overarching idea of safety and sharing information. One worker at The Circle wants to implant a tracking device into all children so that they can be kept safe from kidnappers. That idea evolves into tracking and profiling people with criminal backgrounds so that the "police can keep us all safe." See where I'm going with this? I finished this book at 4:30 in the morning and kept saying aloud "No, no. You can't do that. What about the Fourth Amendment? What about the Constitution!?"
I liked this book. I have some criticism of the main character because she just accepted everything that the her boss at The Circle said without question, presumably because she did not want to lose her job. But, there were some things that were inconsistent. For example, she was upset that another employee made a sex tape of her, but then decided to go "transparent" and video tape her entire life. It is all about permission, I suppose, which opens up an entirely new commentary.
The discussions that I've had about this book make it well worth the two days I spent reading it. I really enjoyed the book and the social commentary that Dave Eggers provides in an increasingly social media saturated world. I absolutely recommend this book a new 1984-esq novel that is relevant today.