Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Circle, Dave Eggers

I'm onto the 2017 Reading Challenge. I didn't get all the books in 2016, but that's ok. But I figured I'd see what I could do in 2017. This fits the category "A book that is being made into a movie this year"

So, this is an adult novel. A LOT of conversational swearing. I didn't like it in the beginning. It was a little much for me, but luckily that wore off after awhile. There are also a few explicit scenes that I skipped over.

Now that that's out of the way....Mae Holland is at a dead end job in her hometown after college when she finally contacts a former college roommate, Annie, to see if maybe there are any openings at the company she works for: The Circle. The Circle is a leading tech/social media company, reminiscent of Google. The campus has thousands of employees, careful to have representation of many ethnicities and interests. Mae lands a job in Customer Experience (it used to be Customer Service, but it improves morale when it's an experience). It's interesting because they ask for feedback surveys on how they did and if it's less than 100, they are require to send a follow up asking how they could improve (or if not, modify the number to reflect their true feelings of the score). Striving for perfection!

The campus offers everything and it's complimentary too. Meals, parties, entertainment, sports, a gym, daycare, doggy daycare, even hotel-like rooms if you need to stay late and don't want to commute home. They have the best healthcare-totally paid for-as well. They provide their employees with EVERYTHING.

This company started to help make the internet a safer place. Anonymity is done away with. We have no more problems with identity theft, so instead of Facebook, we now have TrueYou. All your interactions are connected to you and can be traced back to you. One password for everything. Sounds pretty nice. The internet is a more civil place because people can't be trolls or have no consequence for their actions like we sometimes find with cyber bullying now. Also sounds pretty nice.

This company has created a tiny camera, called SeeChange and it can be placed anywhere, has a batter that would last several years and can give you a detailed live stream feed. "Imagine the human rights implications" if we could see for REAL what is happening anywhere? Imagine what people wouldn't do if they knew they were being watched and knew they'd be caught. You could eliminate all crime!

The story was drawn out a bit, but it was written to prove a point. A point that we cannot let something like this happen. There are 3 main principles this company touts: "Secrets are lies", "Sharing is caring" and "Privacy is Theft". Those, when you read them here, seem obviously crazy. But in the context of this book, you can be sucked into actually agreeing with those statements. That it's selfish to want privacy when giving it up will obviously create a better and safer world for everyone else. People start pledging to be "transparent" which means they wear one of those cameras all day and live stream their whole lives. At first, it seems great-get the political leaders to all be transparent so we REALLY know what's going on. But then, those who want to fight for privacy are villainized and OBVIOUSLY trying to hide someone. So then, ANYONE who would like the right to privacy must have a reason to want to hide and everyone is immediately suspicious of them. Anyone who speaks out against the Circle is shortly thereafter found to have horrible things in their private dealings and discredited. The Circle is pure and honest, they are transparent (except where sensitive intellectual property issues are concerned) but NO ONE suspects that MAYBE they could be dishonest under the guise of intellectual property rights.

Honestly, this book ANNOYED ME. Because it seemed SO over the top and SO redundant, but I do appreciate how blatant the author made his point.

Oh, the character of Francis (thank goodness they wrote him out of the movie script entirely), he is the most pitiful man on the planet. He can't even have a normal physical relationship and expects his partner to rate him as a 100 every time or his feelings would get hurt. There's another guy who is nearly in tears because Mae, in her first week, gets invited to some event he's hosting and she doesn't RSVP and doesn't go. They have to talk it out and Mae has to apologize for the distress she inadvertently caused. It reminds me of how quickly I could feel hurt by seeing friends post pictures of themselves at things they didn't invite me to. I've talked with teenagers and know that that kind of thing bothers them. And people getting upset when people don't like or comment on their posts. This society is EXTREME with that. But I can see parts of happening right now.

I think I'll give this a solid 3 stars. Even though it was annoying and over the top, it DOES make me think about things a little differently. And it's validated my previous thinking that I had before reading it. Around a year or so ago, whenever I felt the urge to post something on Facebook, I started thinking "Do people REALLY want to know this?" "Do people really CARE about this?" "Do I NEED people to know about this?" "What am I trying to GAIN by posting this out there?" "Does this have a PURPOSE?" And most of the time, I'd decide that it really didn't need to be out there at all. It's not a secret, sharing isn't always caring, and privacy is a human right, NOT theft.

It also reminds us that MANY MANY evil things in our world today have been sold under the sheeps clothing of philanthropy. For the good of mankind. That we must make sacrifices for the individual in order to protect and make a better place. Francis had a bad close experience with kidnapping. So he started up this project so that no kid could ever be kidnapped again. Doesn't that sound wonderful? What's the catch? A chip that is implanted into a child's BONE. No mention of if it ever gets removed. It probably won't. Or can't be. So if you can be tracked every second as a child, what are the implications of full society being completely trackable? There are so many things that SEEM good. No more infidelity, secret deals, criminals hiding, no more runaways, and with cameras everywhere, no break-ins, no child abuse, or abuse of any kind.....but these are all things that would be FORCED, and it puts someone else in control. If it's not government, it's a money making for profit company. "We're watching you"

The movie stars Tom Hanks and Emma Watson, and if it's not rated R, my husband and I will definitely go see it. it's set to be released in April.

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