The Circle: An Almost Crude Explanation of Our Societal Future

Last Saturday night was one I spent very much at home on the sofa. Having had a busy few weeks and an… eventful Friday night out with my sister and cousin, Saturday night was for staying in. Gladly so too.

I took this rare opportunity not to catch up on the first episode of this season’s Game of Thrones – I know, I’m a disappointment – but instead to watch a film. My choice, a Netflix Original film called The Circle.

A 2017 movie, with a star-studded line-up that included, Emma Watson, John Boyega, Karen Gillan, Tom Hanks and Bill Paxton, this film is based on the novel of the same name written by author Dave Eggers. The film itself, when released back in February 2017 wasn’t too positively received, and I can understand why. It wasn’t the best. It lost a level of detail I can only assume the book contained, lacked humour, and the representation of an evil conglomerate in the form of The Circle was made clear almost instantly. However, the idea and premise behind the film itself is what engulfed me, and why I had to share.

Emma Watson’s character Mae Holland is offered the opportunity of a lifetime to interview and subsequently obtain a job with a company called The Circle. The Circle is a social media and technology company, one you’d typically find in San Fran’s Silicon Valley. In fact, I think it may even have been set here, but naturally I wasn’t paying attention to film location… When you think of this company, think Google. It has its own campus, and a community that lives within it. There are shops, places to socialise, see a doctor, get waxed, I mean you name it, you can find it on The Circle grounds. For any modern-day millennial or generation Z-er who expects to spend the majority of their time working, and within their workplace socialising, the appeal is entirely understandable, and this exactly is who you can see the company pry on – youth.

The ethics of the company itself is what fascinated me above all else. Complete and total transparency. This is what they strived for. Mae even allows the world to watch her every move – a permanent reality TV show to watch live and in high definition.

In this complete transparency – ironically – doesn’t come more freedom, but instead, more control. The more accessible you are on social networking sites, and on this technology platform, the more you can be controlled. The more information people know about you, the more you are obliged to behave and conform in a certain way.

I couldn’t help but see the parallels to society today. Let’s think about it. What do we see in our lives every single day? Well let’s take Instagram for example. Health and fitness models, and weight loss journeys are a dime a dozen on the app. Everyone is posting a progress or transformation pic of some sort, myself included. Okay so this isn’t such a bad thing. Posting on the platform is a method of accountability. You told the world you are doing it, now you must prove that you can. But what happens when it goes one step further. Obligation. Feeling obliged to look, and appear a certain way to ensure your followers believe your perception of your reality on social media to be real. To archive or delete posts if there aren’t enough likes gained within a certain time period. Control and conformity, much of what we have put in place entirely by ourselves.

Reality TV. Society – especially millennials and generation Z – is largely obsessed. Look at the 2017 final of Love Island this year. It raked in 2.9 million viewers. Almost half of those viewers were between 16-24. A show obsessed over, allowing us mere mortals to watch on a daily basis, who made out with who, and who loved, lied or cheated. It’s a common obsession nowadays to want to watch the lives of other people, whether it be on, or through a television show, or via Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. It’s becoming increasingly easy to be influenced into doing certain things because the masses are partaking in this too and that is all you see.

The online world and instant availability of pretty much anything and everything, has made it normal for us to live to work, rather than seeing working as a means to live life. This is because of what we have been told to believe. Success cannot be achieved if you aren’t always working. What I think we are failing to realise, is that this intense pressure is essentially just making more and more people burn out earlier than before.

We are technology obsessed. I’m looking around this train and can see almost everyone completely engrossed in their phones, myself included as I type away at this post. Slaves to the piece of software entirely designed to free and expand us – the internet… the saddest part, is that I believe we are too involved now, and I don’t believe that it will change. I think we’ll just become more obsessed.

I recommend the film because of the eerily accurate representation of how we are with technology today. Seeing it on a screen really puts the reality of our modern world into perspective, and allows you to question what we would be like and how we would feel if only we could step away from it all occasionally. Let me know your thoughts. If you’ve watched it, once you have. It’s a great discussion topic and I’d love to hear what your views on this topic too.

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