Writer’s Note: If you haven’t seen The Circle yet, then I definitely would suggest you do so. It paints a certain picture about the world we’re embarking on at this very moment — but I don’t think we truly realize it yet.
It’s a hospital scene and plot to Terminator Genisys. It’s Snowden’s realized secret. It’s The Truman Show for the new era. It’s The Circle, but in real time. I never understood where we were headed until I saw it. A movie called The Circle. It’s like watching a world you hadn’t seen until you opened your eyes and saw it from another person’s perspective. The idea of privacy is irrelevant and no longer a thing.
Mae Holland, a woman in her 20s, arrives for her first day of work at a company called the Circle. She marvels at the beautiful campus, the fountain, the tennis and volleyball courts, the squeals of children from the day care center “weaving like water.”
I know everything about you and you know everything about me. I don’t know if I like such a reality. I want my secrets, my time alone, my time with close ones, and my most hidden parts of myself to be for myself. I don’t fully believe in the idea the movie presented. No safe spaces. Every space is seen, heard and can be revealed if desired to. But looking at how we are today, with smartphones and social media, I can’t help but notice, “damn, this is where we’re headed to.” I think it was always a plan to. Kind of inevitable actually. But even understanding this, I still reserve a space for myself. A space that I feel is where nobody knows my moves, my location, or anything I think is worth concealing.
How you react to The Circle – the new book by McSweeney’s founder, novelist and occasional screenwriter Dave Eggers – will doubtless depend on your own relationship to technology. If you’re someone who remains skeptical about the blogging, tweeting, Tumbling and Facebooking that have shaped society in recent years, The Circle may seem like a work of brilliant satire that suggests a chilling potential future for us all.
This movie painted this picture in a way that made me accept it. This place can be where everything is stored, consolidated and accessible to anybody who wants it. Is that really where things are going? I can’t keep repeating it enough. The most private of things, all public. It kind of already is high key, just go on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or The Circle…I mean Facebook. Is privacy really a thing to us anymore? Is it to you? Transparancy — the main theme. Centralized information of all kinds resting in one location and used for every single part of our lives from voting, paying taxes, shopping, you name it. All seeing. All knowing. All of us seeing and knowing as much as possible about each other, our leaders, our friends, the strangers and everyone in between. There’s is nothing that is unknown and can’t be unknown.
When Dave Eggers released The Circle in 2013, Wired dismissed the novel as “what the internet looks like if you don’t understand it.” Eggers admitted that he’d done no research into Silicon Valley while writing it, reinforcing the impression that he had listened to frightful stories about the internet but had rarely used it.
What worried me the most though was not just knowing everything, but knowing everything from infancy. Knowing a baby’s whereabouts because she is tagged with a sensor at a cellular level. Stop the rape, stop the kip-napping of children and all of the world’s ills, but who controls this structure? Who manages this creation and what type of things could the most driven, by good and evil, could do with it? Am I terrified? Not necessarily. It’s like death. There’s virtually no escaping it. We’re already in too deep in the game, and how I feel only prepares me to face whatever world we’re, yes we, are destroying and creating in its place. Maybe it’s not all that bad though — either we’ll see.