The Circle’s a must for Google, Facebook users

Anyone who uses Google, Twitter or Facebook – and that’s practically everybody – needs to read The Circle by Dave Eggers. Fiction, but a chilling possible look into our future. Good book.

Actually, I am quoting somebody else to give my own views on The Circle, Dave Eggers’ 2013 novel. It is 1984 updated, with a Google-like company playing Big Brother’s role.

I thought it would be apt to use social media to review a book about social media. So here you see what others have been saying about the book on Twitter, Google Plus and in newspaper reviews.

Eggers was asked in a brief interview with McSweeney’s, a magazine he cofounded: “Is this book about Google or Facebook or any particular company?”

“No, no,” He replied. “The book takes place after a company called the Circle has subsumed all the big tech companies around today. The Circle has streamlined search and social media into one system and that’s enabled it to grow very quickly in size and power.”

That’s what he said, but readers will be very much reminded of Google and Facebook – especially Google. The Circle resembles Google in many ways: It is big on search and social media, has three men at the top, and even the company name is reminiscent of the Circles on Google+.

I love Google – the search more than the social media element – but there is no denying internet giants like Google and Facebook are getting to know an awful lot about us. If you are old as me, you will remember when people worried about online privacy. Now people can – and do – talk about everything on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

The consequences can be both embarrassing and dangerous. For example, here’s a Times of India report about people being arrested or browbeaten for criticizing the new Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi. (He came to power with a landslide majority last month.)

The Circle is not a literary novel. You will be disappointed if you look for beautiful images and fine turns of phrase. Mae Holland, the main character who joins the Circle, is not in the least lovable. Embracing the company’s philosophy that one should have no secrets, no private life, that one should reveal everything on social media, she comes up with the following words:

SECRETS ARE LIES
SHARING IS CARING
PRIVACY IS THEFT

Shades of Orwell?

The consequences for Mercer, her ex-boyfriend who hates social media and vainly tries to protect his privacy, are tragic.

Some may find the book preachy or didactic.

But it’s worth reading because it captures the world of social media so well. Heavy users of Facebook or Twitter will be able to identify with Mae as she goes through the zillions of messages in her network.

Enough said. Over to others.





And here’s a sampling of book reviews.

The Circle is Dave Eggers’s tenth work of fiction, and a fascinating item it is.

Margaret Atwood in The New York Review of Books

The first line in the book is: “ ‘My God,’ Mae thought. ‘It’s heaven.’ ”

And so we know that the Circle in Dave Eggers’s new novel, “The Circle,” will be a hell.

The New York Times

The Circle is as much Google as it is Facebook (though it officially stands in for neither, as the Circle is supposed to have succeeded them).

The New Yorker

The Circle is a deft modern synthesis of Swiftian wit with Orwellian prognostication.

The Guardian