I read the Dave Eggar's novel The Circle a couple of years ago, and recently watched the film adaptation on Netflix. The book was more enjoyable as we got more detail into the background of the characters.However, there are lots of messages that we should heed from this story.
Mae Holland, the protagonist, gets a job with The Circle a huge American tech company, which is part based on Google, part based on Facebook that dominates the internet. Mae sees this as her dream job as she meets a lot of idealistic young people. The Circlers really believe that The Circle can change the world. In fact, there is almost a cult like atmosphere at the company, especially when employees are addressed by their founder Eamon Bailey.Bailey is clearly based on the late Steve Jobs
One of the mantras of The Circle is that secrets are theft. Effectively, we should share everything and have no privacy. Mae agrees to wear a camera so that her life is recorded on line, which means that everyone can watch. This is a cautionary tale of where we could be heading in the near future.
We as a culture are far too willing to over share aspects of our lives to the world. Holiday or wedding photos are placed on social media. We all want to present a glossy,happy view of our lives to the our friends on Facebook or Instagramm. A close friend of mine will take pictures of his meals when we are on holiday and upload them onto social media.
These tech giants have a masses of information about all of us as we upload/search or share information. What happens to that data? The Circle describes a scenario where a seemingly idealistic company can use its power to intimidate and influence governments. Who does Google answer to? The amount of information they have about all of us is truly frightening.Who is monitoring what is done with our digital footprints?
It was once the case that media moguls like Rupert Murdoch would wield huge amounts of power within the political process. Now, he is being ecclipsed by tech giants who are based in Silicon Valley. Newspapers do not have the same level of muscle that they once had. People get their news on their phones or tablets. Why buy a newspaper in 2017?
The recent terror attacks in London and Manchester have seen greater calls by our government for social media companies to remove content from terrorist organisations like ISIS. The tech giants can ignore these requests, until it affects their bottom line.The Circle should make us all sit up and think. We have taken a journey into the dark.