Typically, my nightstand is cluttered with a pile of practical books about relationships, career, personal growth and a number of random topics from manners to the nature of infinity. Once in a while, I love to ditch the rotation and read something relevant but fun — something I can devour.
Most recently, I blew through “The Circle” by David Eggers, a speedy 504-page read that really helped me meditate on the nature of my relationship with the Internet. It’s the story of a young woman who gets hired at The Circle, essentially Google on steroids. In an effort to demystify, share and connect, Circlers cultivate a society based on complete transparency.
The book is clearly fictional, but also strikes a very honest chord. If you’ve ever felt the dread of “1984” or “Farenheight 451” potentially coming to fruition, you’ll feel a similar pull as The Circle redefines what it means to be social.
How the characters use Internet tools to share, connect and know more than ever is far from foreign, but there is also a darker narrative that already pervades our current reality. We demonize the unknown, using data or majority support to eliminate our fears.
“The Circle” shuns the notion that anything should be unknowable. I think it’s a natural human drive to discover, wanting to understand the mysteries of the universe and seek answers that tame the chaos of life.
But is it really possible for everything to be known? And if it is, what happens to that urge to explore?
Ultimately, it made me think of a quote I saw on Pinterest that read, “I miss my pre-Internet brain.” When we have Google to give us facts and social media to give us validation, we loose a little magic in exchange. Just as important as our ability to know is our ability to wonder. Just as important as it feels to wrap your mind around something is feeling that something is innately beyond our grasp, innately mysterious. There is a certain magic in life’s chaos that is essential to embrace.
In the end, “The Circle” made me appreciate what a unique time we live in, where we can access so much knowledge and still leave room for the magical parts of life. I know I’ll be making a concentrated effort to check my phone a little less and start living life a little more.