Wednesday, January 01, 2014

The Circle

Happy New Year!
I was right. A couple of days ago I posted my favourite books read in 2013 and mentioned that if I finished this new one by Dave Eggers in time, it may have had to displace one of those five. 

It would have done so, for sure. Technically, I finished it today [in 2014] so maybe you will hear about it again, next December!
The Circle -- my God, where can I begin, even. The whole book was just amazing. I literally could not put it down and devoured the 500 pages in a couple of days -- which is unusual for me.
We all are familiar with social media -- blogging itself is one of its many forms. Dave Eggers prophetically takes it all a step forward -- a giant step forward, in this book. The Circle is a corporation that basically develops a global monopoly on online activity. It's never stated in the book how far into the future this is taking place, but every reader will be able to extrapolate the potentialities that exist in our modern society. It's simply a matter of sort of "upping" the technology now available, and creating an accepted mindset wherein users gradually give in to an ever increasing abandonment of personal privacy.
I'm confusing the issue -- trying to put it into a summation is difficult.
Hmmm… how to summarize.
Currently, most of us are involved in the world of social media. One might say that potentially, we are all connected. Thing is, we currently retain the option of participation. And if we participate, we yet retain the option of limiting our participation. Personally controlling it, in other words.
But in the world of The Circle those options quickly erode, and society buys into the idea that ever increasing levels of "transparency" are of ultimate benefit to all.
The Circle implements what sounds like great ideas at first -- politicians that wear cameras on them at all times, criminals that are easily identifiable in a crowd, children that can never be abducted because they are instantly trackable via GPS, etc., -- but along the way, all personal freedoms are one by one jettisoned, and the reader is faced with seeing [literally] what it would really be like to be at all times monitored, and "known" by anyone else who wanted to observe what you were up to.
About midway through the book, one of the founders of The Circle states it clearly: 

"…what if we all behaved as if we were being watched? It would lead to a more moral way of life. Who would do something unethical or immoral or illegal if they were being watched?"
Hah! While at first one might nod in agreement -- The Circle gives us a startling look at just what such a world would be like. It's scary -- scary as hell.
The Circle develops a sort of mantra: SECRETS ARE LIES. SHARING IS CARING. PRIVACY IS THEFT. Eggers, in an exquisitely written story, shows us that those three phrases are a horror when unduly [and mindlessly] exaggerated. He becomes, in my opinion, the new George Orwell with the writing of this book. This is a 1984 for those of us living in 2014.
And because of technology, the stakes are higher this time around. Much higher. By the end of this book you will realize that you need to be vigilant in running, running for your life, toward any shape that is not The Circle.
For further reading, check out this excellent review by Margaret Atwood -- HERE.



(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

This sounds scary yet compelling. I can't wait to get to my copy.Glad u enjoyed it.

Stefanie said...

I am waiting my turn for this at the library. I am very much looking forward it!

Melwyk said...

I wasn't sure whether I'd want to read this one, but it sounds different than I thought it would be -- and really scary! 1984 for the modern age sounds about right. And from what you've said, it also sounds, sadly, quite possible already.

Cipriano said...

Diane, Stefanie, and Melwyk:
I think you all will just love this book. I did not say much this time around about the depth of the actual storyline, or anything about the style of the author -- and my review almost ends up sounding like a non-fiction book. But trust me, this thing should be a movie. It's really gripping, and relevant.