It’s time to bring back your favorite monthly(ish) feature, Read a F***ing Book! Today’s recommendation is perfect for fans of the show “Black Mirror,” but since it’s a book, it won’t rot your brain. I’m talking about “The Circle by Dave Eggers.” This one came out a couple of years ago, but is still super relevant to our lives. It brings you into the world of an ambitious young woman named Mae who gets the job opportunity of a lifetime at a massive tech company set on taking over the world.
Everything starts of great at her new job, a place called The Circle, which resembles a hybrid of Google, Amazon, Facebook, Yelp and the NSA. Everyone at work is extremely friendly, the money is good, the amenities are killer, and all the beautiful young tech people are constantly hooking up with each other — it’s a little bit ridiculous. Eggers writes some pretty heavy-handed satire that lacks the subtlety that made its classic predecessors like Brave New World so excellent.
Things start getting really creepy at The Circle as the company gets more and more involved in Mae’s personal life and starts mandating that its employees spend much of their time using the company’s social media services, even while they’re working or sleeping. Although Mae begins to feel overwhelmed at the number of screens she has on her work desk and trying to keep her social rank up, she is undeterred and works hard to impress the shadowy figures running the company. The Circle is all about transparency and aims to eventually eliminate the whole idea of privacy, believing it to be selfish to keep your thoughts and experiences to yourself. Mae is uncertain about this philosophy, but she needs to keep her job at all costs.
Eggers goes off on a few tangents throughout the book to rant about modern technology, but overall, it is an excellent and somewhat terrifying read. The book was first published in 2013, and it is quite disconcerting to read it now, a mere three years later, and see that our world seems to be inching ever closer to the world portrayed in the book. As silly and over-the-top as some of the plot points are, it isn’t really that inconceivable to think that our future looks a lot like this. For that alone, it is worth the read. There’s also sex and death and plenty of mystery to keep you turning the pages, if technological totalitarianism isn’t enough for you.
Now go read it!