How to read The Circle

Spoilers.

The Circle is an important book, and I totally recommend reading it. It handles the topics of data-security and surveillance, and presents those in an accessible fashion to non-tech-people, and there are only very few of those (Little Brother also falls into this “genre”, which I recommend too, but goes into a different direction).

The problem about The Circle is that is, in parts, really dumb and frustrating.

The characters act illogically. There is an openly symbolistic subplot about a shark that goes nowhere. Everyone in this universe just goes along with what massively changing technology comes along without any regard for other human beings.

The frustrating thing is there are nuggets of truth in here, and they are important. They show how blind adherence to brogrammer mentality can displace people and effectively cast them out from society. It shows ways how adding innocently-appearing ideas into current processes without any second thoughts will have devastating results years later. It shows how our current society could end up being a dystopia without anyone noticing. Every step in this is story is conceivable, and it ends up being 1984.

My copy of the book.

So here are a few pointers:

  • This is SATIRE. It is not supposed to show how rational people behave.
  • There is an openly symbolistic subplot about a shark. It goes nowhere.
  • The main character is really not that relatable despite being presented with all the tropes of one
  • People are behaving in stupid ways to make a point about our current societal development, not because they are well-written characters

Approach this like an episode of Black Mirror, where a world is presented that went horribly wrong and everyone just goes along with it and it ends in a very depressing manner.

If you go in with this expectations it will be a much more enjoyable read.

-Matthias

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