The three ideas that were revealed following the incident involving Mae and the stolen kayak were discussed by Mae and Eamon Bailey and presented to the rest of the Circle employees. My personal beliefs contrast with these statements and suggestions; however, it is interesting to explore where these mantras originate and relate to contemporary society.
Secrets are Lies
Although this statement seems significantly extreme, the idea that secrets are lies stems from the notion that when information is withheld from others, the whole truth cannot possibly be known. To use Mae’s words, the information becomes, “a distorted and broken reflection” (Eggers 290) of what is actually occurring. For an issue or topic to be properly analyzed, the details of the entire situation must be available to truly promote understanding and avoid misconstrued assumption of facts (Eggers 299).
From a logical point of view, this theory does make sense in the real world; why would someone withhold a piece of information if not for the purpose of completing an act surreptitiously? Comparing the Circle to contemporary society, today secrets are also stigmatized with the connotation of suspicion, untrustworthiness, and insincerity. Nearly all of the world’s crime is done covertly, and the relationship between what constitutes a lie and what can be considered a simple gap between pieces of information has been debated for centuries.
Sharing is Caring
This mantra uses ethos to appeal to the audience’s emotions, which is especially evident when Mae nearly guilts the audience members into re-evaluating their contribution to their global community by saying, “If you care about your fellow human beings…their plight, their suffering, their curiosity…you share with them” (Eggers 304). The way this idea is phrased highlights the intended correlation between secrets and selfishness through the assumption that when an experience is withheld from others, those who withhold the information are doing so in order to exclude or reject others who did not share in the experience first hand (Eggers 303).
Children in today’s society are taught this simple rhyme, “Sharing is Caring”, with the expectation of grasping socially acceptable etiquette as it pertains to cooperating with others and sharing physical objects. The application of this phrase to how it is expressed in The Circle relates to today’s societal development in which the children who grew up learning to give to others, to share their toys, and to openly discuss how they feel are now becoming adults who are still striving to share what they know for the benefit of others. However, at what point does this constant output of information stop being an attempt to benefit other members of society and start being an outlet for instant gratification? An opportunity for people to feel important, like their voices matter and they are truly making a difference in people’s lives – when in reality no one even asked for their input, and the information is irrelevant, yet the individual still feels that sense of self-worth every time others comment, like, share, retweet, etc., and the individual then becomes dependent on the society created within the confines of a few earth minerals to the point where nothing can become accomplished because of the need to constantly relate to millions of others that “care” about the individual’s experiences.
Privacy is Theft
And finally, the origin of the idea that privacy is theft can be found in Mae’s opinion that, “It’s the natural state of information to be free” (Eggers 304). Mae goes on to say that we, as human beings are “obligated…to share what we see and know” with one another and that “all knowledge must be democratically accessible” (Eggers 304).
Information can be both definite and intangible in the way that it can be accessible through factual evidence, but only after thorough excavation and study of indefinite processes and experiences that were once unexplored aspects of the world in which we live. Do we, as human beings, have the right to access all information? Am I my brother’s keeper? When did the responsibility for knowing the minute details of our neighbors’ lives become thrust upon our shoulders? Is it our civic duty to make sure that everyone feels included in even virtual realities?
In any case, these three mantras offer ideas that are very relevant to today’s world and provide significant points that can lead to interesting conversations among individuals with different perspectives on the extent or limitations of privacy.