Ever the critic, Mercer identifies a “new neediness” in our social-media-driven culture. Offer your interpretation of the causes of such neediness, drawing examples from the text and perhaps from contemporary culture.
Never before in the history of humankind have individuals fallen prey to a dependence on technological tools that stems from an internal psychological state such as that which is depicted in The Circle. This need for social media interaction is demonstrated in The Circle and recognized by the character named Mercer, who flatly labels the rising issue as it is and calls out Mae for succumbing to its power. Most of the other members of society label Mercer as a social pariah, an outsider who, in choosing nonconformity, is eventually hunted down and literally driven out of the new society they have created. This neediness that has gradually, almost silently, developed poses a great threat to the functionality of society as a whole, as well as to individual freedoms that people often take for granted.
Novel technological innovations have always proven to be more interesting than previous devices or methods of doing something, and this is obvious because of human beings’ natural attractions to unknown stimuli in order to fulfill their curiosity. However, in the case of modern technology, exploration and curiosity have given way to habituation and dependence, causing formerly new concepts to be transformed into expected occurrences that should be available at all times. This need comes in the form of social media.
With the development of social media sites and applications came the beginning of an era where people could “publicly” express their personal opinions or belief and receive feedback almost instantly. It is also a convenient, reliable way of communicating with other people, and it simplifies the ability to reach out to others who one might normally not ever be able to contact otherwise. However, as Mae frequently recognized, not all people are reachable at the exact moment she wanted to contact them. At different times, Mae often tries to contact her parents, who give cease to contact her because of her obvious obsession with her online presence, her friend Annie, who refuses to talk with her after the two have a fight, and a man named Kalden, who frequently is unavailable or even nonexistent according to the Circle’s search tools (Eggers 196). Mae’s compulsion is essentially to obtain the knowledge that, although she certainly feels entitled to have, she actually does not have any right to receive. Mercer realized this odd obsession that not only Mae, but also other members of the society have with other people’s lives. The feeling of obligation to reply to, comment about, or even check up on everyone else’s posts about their lives comes with the over-exaggerated belief that one’s virtual activity is essential to things happening in the rest of the world.
When these communication abilities first were introduced, the world seemed like a massive place and people were simply just small beings who were basically irrelevant in society. People felt that their opinions were unimportant and overlooked – until the birth of global communication abilities through social media. Now people all over the world can chime into conversations and feel like their input is welcome and even critical to the conversation’s flow. This feeling of purpose feeds into the psychological mindset that places constant communication using theses devices on the pedestal of human contact and personal expression.
This social media world in which we and the people of The Circle live has created a detrimental obsession, a crutch of dependence on a form of communication that, although in many ways is extremely helpful, has evolved into an internal need for constant attention and feedback that has planted itself in the minds of today’s citizens.