I am an avid reader, to put it lightly, and I ordinarily read fiction. It’s the perfect escape from my day-to-day and I feel like everything else I consume is non-fiction, etc. It’s the English major in me. But I just finished The Circle by Dave Eggers and it freaked me out.
Without giving too much away to those who plan to read it, the book is a dystopian novel set in the current time period about a young woman who goes to work for a major technology company in Silicon Valley. Her employment at the company begins to take a turn as her privacy is slowly chipped away. Eggers does this to great effect by decreasing her freedom and autonomy in small enough increments that it doesn’t feel intrusive, especially to the reader. But when you step back toward the end of the book and realize how different her predicament is, it’s a marked change.
While it’s just a story, there are obvious tones of doubt about the technology we are putting forth and the death of privacy, which I think was successfully solidified 10 years ago when Facebook was invented. In the book, the death of privacy can actually be fatal in certain circumstances, and the notion that complete knowledge makes everything better is what literally drives the human race forward. As we begin to put all of our pictures online, pour our thoughts out in Tweets and blogs (I am clearly guilty of this!), allow websites to track cookies so they know our purchase preferences and intents, we are contributing to the collective knowledge pool yet also unraveling our own abilities to control the perception of our own lives.
I highly recommend the novel, but the more I think about it, the more aspects of existing technology most people use on a daily basis reflect the detrimental technology in the book. There’s also a spectacular twist at the end (it also involves tech) that I won’t spoil.
Has anyone else read it? Any thoughts?
PS the next book I’m reading is non-fiction: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. If you have thoughts on that send them my way!