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The Before the Movie Book Club: The Circle

The Circle Technology

Movie Premiere: April 28 Buy Tickets Here!

Starring: Emma Watson, Emma Watson’s American accent,  Tom Hanks and John Boyega.

Trailer:

 Mae Holland works for a giant internet company.  The Circle is a mega-corporation with all of the power of Amazon, Google and Facebook combined.  The job seems perfect at the beginning.  There is a gym.  The cafeteria has vegan options (Here’s some of my favorite vegan options!). They have a guest speaker on campus every night.  It is like listening to a new TED talk at work everyday.  The Circle is the complete package. In Eggers’ world, this perfection comes at a cost.  The emphasis on “sharing is caring” might not be as thoughtful and innocent as it seems.  

As of today, you have less than a month to read this best seller before it become a movie.  The book doesn’t come without controversy.  Some argue that the setting of the novel is skewed.  Eggers presents an incorrect version of Silicon Valley.  One of the biggest knocks on Eggers is that he doesn’t regularly use Twitter.  This is the last tweet that Eggers has sent:

Honestly, I’m not even sure if that’s his actual twitter. It’s not even verified.  If so, he definitely put the Egg in egg avatar. Terrible joke aside, the problem lies in Eggers writing a commentary on the state of technology but isn’t completely versed in its vocabulary and rituals.  Another common complaint is that Eggers didn’t even visit the campus of a real life tech giant.  How could anyone write about a place they’ve never visited? Surely imagination and world building isn’t enough.  (Sarcasm intended.)

For some, there seems to be joy found in pointing out the glaring mistakes of The Circle.   Opponents claim that Eggers’ premise is that all technology is bad. In this post, the author claims that the setup of The Circle is opposite of what the real internet giants are.  The post also claims that the book puts too much emphasis on the importance of social media.  These are all valid arguments, but what the logic is missing is that Eggers didn’t write the book to PREDICT the future, he is writing to speculate.  He’s writing to suggest a specific possibility. 

Dave Eggers isn’t a prophet.  (According to his wikipedia, he’s just an American writer, editor and publisher.)   He is not meant to been seen as EGG-stradamus.  His goal is to expand an idea that he sees in our world.  The goal is to play out the scenario of “What if” to see where this particular train of thought will take us as a society.  The end goal is not to make the correct assumption. This assumption is the glaring mistake of the counterclaim’s argument.

What the novel is good for is its ability to capture the anxious feeling that technology generates.  Eggers spends a lot of his time showing how Mae ramps up her focus on sending zings, frowns, smiles, surveys and “connecting” with others(You can follow me: HERE). She becomes so consumed with making these connections that by the end of the novel her  workload has just become meaningless, to the point that it mimics the terrible job she left.

The Circle has its faults, but its redeeming quality is its ability to mirror the anxiety and the neediness of the internet.  I’m curious to see how this nervousness will be translated on screen.  To imitate that urgency of being caught up with the news or to describe the pleasure of receiving likes over the internet seems easier to describe with words than images.  How will the description of the “tear” that Mae feels translate onto the screen?  The Circle elegantly points out the sinister nature of trying to simplify the internet.  Eggers points out the trade off between streamlining technology and losing your privacy.   The subtle transition isn’t easy to replicate in a novel.  Eggers effortlessly describes the new state of mind.  Honestly, I too tried mimic this dependency on technology.  For this post, I linked to eleven articles to try to simulate the tension that Eggers describes in his novel.  It’s not easy.  Scrubby writers, like me, make those connections awkward and forced.  Eggers ramps up the tension without seeming too obvious.  It’s worth reading before the story hits the theaters just to see if the tension that Eggers describes makes it to the screen. 

Article written by Megan Suttles

I can't decide if I want to use this space to be witty or insightful. I guess it will be neither.