One of the most notable themes that can be identified between pages 102 and 205 of The Circle is hypocrisy. As Mae continues incorporating herself more and more into the Circle and immersing herself in its culture, it seems that she loses a sense of who she is and what she stands for. Her interactions with both Francis and Mercer highlight this development.
When LuvLuv was introduced at Dream Friday, Mae was horrified to find herself named publicly as the subject of Francis’ affection during a preview of the new service. Mae was caught off guard and unprepared for the entire experience. Ultimately, everyone in the audience was given a detailed look into her life, including her allergies, names of restaurants she frequents, rankings of her favorite foods, movie preferences, favorite locations, and more. LuvLuv was able to take advantage of the data trail she had been unwittingly leaving for years and turn it into a search engine for people who were interested in knowing about her. Mae, understandably, is furious and finds herself wondering why Francis couldn’t ask her himself what he wanted to know about her.
One day later, however, Mercer repeats this same question to Mae when he criticizes her work at and association with the Circle. Mercer take issue with how Mae interacts and communicates with him, essentially unhappy with how she uses social networks to interact, prioritizing online engagement over personal engagement. He has problems with how the Circle encourages people to participate online in what he understands to be a system that perpetuates untrue information by way of comments, posts and reviews on businesses. Mae had believed one of the false reviews about his business that was nothing more than rumor, and he is frustrated that she became instantly angry with him instead of asking him personally to verify the claim. As a reader its frustrating that Mae can’t see the ironic parallel between her own frustration and Mercer’s. She had been wishing for the exact same thing only a day ago, that Francis ask engage with her personally. Yet when speaking with Mercer, she decries him as an underachiever for being unwilling to participate and buy into the necessity of an online presence. If she really believed in the importance of this online presence then she would have no issue with LuvLuv.
Maybe its my natural tendency to distrust things I don’t completely understand (in this case the Circle’s incongruous image as an overlord yet extremely convenient and necessary for social life), but Mercer’s interaction with Mae was the first time during my reading that I wasn’t on Mae’s side. He advocates for an offline lifestyle and refuses to buy into the Circle’s dominance over communication and interaction, which is refreshing after reading about Mae being blindly enthralled by the Circle’s capabilities and technologies. She refuses to acknowledge the dangerous side of these technologies, even after she is upset about the LuvLuv incident. Mercer, I think, provides a needed respite from the Circle and its culture, and at least proves that some characters are immune to it’s powerful influence.