Book Review of 'The Circle' by Dave Eggers
An Internet Company Can Seem Benign ... At First
A Must-Read Book for Modern Thinkers
What if a mega search engine, similar to Google, also owned Facebook, Amazon, Yahoo!, LinkedIn, Twitter and most of the other forms of social media which are available online today? What if working for the premier internet company in the world was your dream job ... but it required you to live a completely transparent life, revealing everything you say and do to billions of people around the world? What if your employer required your friends and family members to also submit themselves to this type of transparency? Would the allure of the job make the transparency something you could accept?
This is the premise behind by Dave Eggers. In this techno-thriller, Mae Holland is a young woman only two years out of college. After spending those two years working at a dreary job with a local utility company, she is absolutely thrilled when her old college roommate, Annie, helps her get the job of a lifetime. She is going to work for The Circle, the largest tech company in the world. The perks are amazing: good pay, fabulous health benefits for her and her parents, free meals, parties, clubs and an amazing array of social benefits. There are even dorms on the work campus so employees can spend the night at the office, after working late or socializing with their co-workers. What more could anyone want? "The Circle,"
Everything about the job seems ideal. Her co-workers are interesting and enthusiastic; innovation is encouraged. They are convinced that technology can solve nearly all the world's problems, including violence against children, community crime, terrorism, and dishonest politicians. All they need to do is get everyone to use their efficient services ... and millions of people are more than willing to do so. In fact, people are begging for the opportunity to participate and many of the company's clients are desperate for affirmation and approval when they do use the products produced by The Circle.
But is there a downside? Who is the mysterious man who keeps popping into Mae's life? Why do her parents and the man she dated in college dislike this new era of transparency? Why can't they see that they would be so much happier and safer by being cooperative?
The issues raised by this book are thought-provoking. What if totalitarianism is not forced on us by an outside entity? What if we willingly give up our freedom and our privacy? What if we turn our freedom over, not to a government, but to a private corporation? Could it happen? Is it happening today? Are we complicit in our own submission?
The women in my book club loved this book and it prompted a lively discussion. This would also be an excellent book for a technology club or college classroom to read and discuss together. It is a thrilling, exciting and thought-provoking book about the future of technology and social media.
As rumors spread throughout our culture about how our phones, television sets and even our children's toys can be use to "spy" on us, this book is even more relevant today than it was the day it was written. It is also being released as a major motion picture in 2017.
A Thought-Provoking Book for the 21st Century
Since reading this book, I have seen more and more indications that the ideas in "The Circle" are coming true! This reality can be incredibly chilling.
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