The Circle, by Dave Eggers. I read the New York Times Magazine preview and downloaded the whole thing onto my Kindle as soon as it was released. It’s good so far—suspenseful, for sure, because there’s this creepiness hanging over the subject’s place of employment (and the book’s setting/namesake), tech giant the Circle.
But I am at this part where, no spoilers, one of the Circle’s head honchos is presenting a new technology that could change the world. It’s a camera-based technology, so it could be used for surveillance or transparency or whatever. And all of the Circle’s employees applaud this new technology, enraptured. And I get where Eggers is going here, I think. You know, these new technologies are infiltrating our lives to the point where we unthinkingly sacrifice our privacy, etc.
But it’s also kind of losing me. Because the main character sits in awe of this thing, this new technology, like everyone else. But to any rational person there’s a clear con: ubiquitous hi-def cameras might increase transparency and immediacy, but they would also infringe on our right to privacy. And nobody in the book mentions this (so far). This does not register with the protagonist. Is this a dramatic irony thing? Are we, the readers, supposed to think, ‘Wow, this girl is pretty stupid for not even considering the implications of this device?’ Or are we supposed to be with her, mouths agape at this fictionalized innovation. And in that case, isn’t Eggers kind of underestimating the reader’s intelligence?
Well, I am interested to see where it goes.