As I’ve continued to read The Circle by Dave Eggers, I’ve gotten progressively more freaked out by the idea of such an all-inclusive social network. Although this comes from last week’s reading, the scene where Mae is accosted by a superior for not activating her social circle had me sweating, as did her meeting with an offended employee.
This week’s reading (I think; I’ve overlapped somewhat) introduced LuvLuv, an extremely creepy search engine that allows users to (in the world of The Circle, of course), pinpoint another user’s preferences regarding dating. The common theme that these fictional technologies share seems to be the idea that all information about each other must be shared to ensure efficiency, and indeed, this is the company’s predominant slogan: “All that happens must be known.” Sure, in the novel, LuvLuv can only search for information already provided for by the user, but our intentions when posting statuses surely cannot be to have them meticulously combed. As Mae points out in the book, what’s wrong with simply asking someone in person? She, understandably, hates having her information sifted through, and states that perhaps it’s because she doesn’t want her personality to be boiled down to her presence on social media.
The catch-22 is that The Circle wants this to happen, for everyone, but is it truly possible? Can social media effectively convey who someone is through photos and text on a computer screen? Unfortunately for Mae, this is what her company requires, and later, her ex-boyfriend expresses his opinions on the subject, saying that social media only clouds legitimate relationships. I wholly believe this to be the case. Sure, perhaps these websites can offer a small glimpse of someone’s hobbies and interests, but that seems to be about it. This doesn’t even take into account that (thank God), we still have a choice, no matter how thinly veiled, in terms of what we decide to post. As a result, we only post what we want to be illuminated. I can’t imagine a world where everyone knew everything about me. Give me the shadows, because when I decide to let myself out, it will mean that much more.