To have one, you must forgo the other, yet, to have the other, you must compromise the one. This confusing riddle highlights fascinating give-take relationship present between intimacy (the one) and privacy (the other). An association today that, given the blurred lines, has become increasingly difficult to maintain. In the age of social media, many individuals pride themselves on their abilities to maintain privacy by choosing who may “follow” the chain of intimate details about their lives. Others, however, enjoy the carefree lifestyle of being public and sharing themselves with strangers and friends alike. Dave Eggers examines how the connection between these two polar concepts becomes increasingly hard to differentiate as society propels itself into technology.
In The Circle, Eggers does an incredible job highlighting the unforgiving dynamic between intimacy and privacy within the an increasingly advanced technological age. Take for example the concept of transparency that is beginning to develop in the plot at this point. When Bailey was giving his “Dream Friday” speech relating to this topic he said “[…] transparency leads to peace of mind […]” (69). However, this statement is then contradicted later in the novel when Annie had bad-mouthed Dan and Alistair sending Mae frantic messages. “Tenth: Just checked and see that you’re back at your desk. Call this instant or we’re through. I thought we were friends” (114). Doesn’t sound too peaceful to me. In showcasing the realistic stresses to which complete transparency lend itself, Eggers exemplifies the balance that must be forged between the two. Conversely, Eggers also shows the degree to which privacy can negatively affect one’s life. Mercer is the prime example of this. As a tradesman, he must forge an intimate relationship with his customers in order to make a living. However, he fails to conform to the technologically-driven world. Rather than giving up an ounce or two of his privacy to gain a larger customer base, he keeps to himself and hurts his business as a result. In a sense, Mae is intimacy and Mercer is privacy. She zings, posts photos and share all the details of her life with other circlers and strangers to increase her status, while Mercer keeps to himself and refuses to conform to growingly open society. Neither one can even begin to understand the other’s motives for acting the way they do; therein lies the perplexing relationship between intimacy and privacy.
In conclusion, Eggers usage of situations in the novel, along with the foil between Mercer and Mae, work to bring about the intolerant relationship that privacy and intimacy hold with each other. All in all, the insufferable give-take relationship between the two ideas needs balance to exist harmoniously; because this rarely happens, the two are in a constant tug-of-war as highlighted in The Circle.