I feel like I’m a little late to the game getting to this one, seeing as this book by Dave Eggers is all about keeping up with technology and the crowd. But, I got to reading it eventually and I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about it.
In the not too distant future, Mea, a twenty something journalist gets a job at the most prestigious tech company in the world, the Circle. It engulfed Google, Apple, Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook to offer a unified and seamless tech experience. Almost all internet users have a TruYou account that gives them access to all of the Circle’s unsurpassed products. Basically, if you want the experience the full capabilities of the internet, you need to belong to the Circle and allow it access to your information. With very literal reference to the current tech companies, the book brings to light content ownership, privacy and control but also social dependence and individuality.
From the first page, the warning bells ring. Everything that we have learnt from the constant privacy scares of Google and Facebook are thrown out the window. You are required to create a surprisingly large suspension of disbelief for a story that feels so real at the same time. Eggers, is clearly being satirical but it’s still difficult to believe that none of the characters question the clearly illegal actions of the circle. A couple times I verbally said to myself, “Ah come on… Really?… No one’s going to complain about that?” And when characters do protest, they come across as a feeble foil-hat-wearing-conspiracy-theorist-nut-jobs.
The language is also very elementary, lots of “He said…” then “she said..”. Every so often it feels a bit like a high school writing exercise. It does however make it easy to read and, I did keep reading all the way. And this is where I start to get confused with how I feel about the book. The plot is difficult to believe, the writing is simple and yet, I keep thinking and talking about it.
I can’t count the amount of times it has come up in conversation in the weeks that followed my completion of the book. Not only that, it made me question my relationship with technology and debate if this technology thing is really a good thing. The thing I love the most started to look ominous. Not a great position to be in when I work with technology every day… This book clearly hit a nerve. Luckily I snapped out of it rather quickly but still makes me wonder: How could such a silly book affected me so much?
I well recommend it, just don’t expect an award winning read.