The Circle by Dave Eggers

When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency.

Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in America – even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.

I wanted to read this book before the movie was released. I saw the trailer and was immediately intrigued. Now that I’ve read the book, I’m even more excited to see the movie. This book was different then what I expected, particularly towards the end, but I really enjoyed it. I haven’t read a book in a while that I felt like I couldn’t put down. I just wanted to know what was going to happen next!

As the story began, I was just amazed by Mae’s experience at The Circle. As she is taken on tours and the various facilities available to all employees are explained, I was simply blown away. Three story eateries, huge libraries, free sample rooms, gyms, dorms, free health care! Seriously how much do you need to get paid at The Circle when there are that many employee privileges. You’d never have to pay for rent, health costs, food, clothes – anything ever again.

New technological advances are introduced often. Cheaper, lighter and smaller cameras everywhere for surveillance, information about people stored on a server so you can check for allergies, likes and dislikes before dates. All of these new aspects add to the over communication which already exists at The Circle.

The social media pressure is very evident in this book. Mae scolds herself for missing messages that may have hurt other peoples feelings and then works all night to reply to everyone. Sending thousands upon thousands of messages and ‘zings’.

The instance that sticks out for me, is when Mae has lunch with her friend Annie. She left her phone on her desk and by the time she’d left Annie, gone to the bathroom and returned to her desk she had a dozen messages from Annie who believed that Mae was angry and ignoring her. Who among us hasn’t thought that someone hated us when they took to long to reply?

Mae simply loves her job, and is thrilled with everything she gets to do. But the way she describes all the different communication methods made me anxious. Communicating with customers, her staff group, all staff and then the outer world. It’s all so much, she spends all day instant messaging and sending ‘zing’ messages on various groups and platforms. I can barely keep up with the two Facebook groups I’m in.

As it intends, I really kept thinking about social media and all our methods of communication while reading this book. I mean I run this blog, I have a Facebook account, two Instagram accounts, and I also use Snapchat and Twitter. Then you add in emails, other internet use and actual face-to-face communication.

As the story continued and Mae became more successful she was just more available. It was more ‘zing’ posts and live feeds, plus everything else. The further it went, the more ridiculous and scary it all seemed. As she gets deeper into this online presence she lost her real self, and the scariest part was that she didn’t seem to mind.


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