All Washed Up


Survival of the fittest: a concept that even before you learn about Charles Darwin is understood. The strong live while the weak die. In the case of the Marina Trench scene in The Circle, this harsh reality still holds true. Additionally, the scene is highly symbolic of the power that those truly in charge at the Circle command and how the company has worked to encroach upon the world’s population.

To begin, the transparency that is seen with the creature is obviously a direct reference to the main mantra of transparency at the Circle. However, taking this one step further, it showcases the tactics that those in power at the circle have used to spread themselves across society: incognito. Just in how the fish have the capability to become “[…] invisible” (476), so too was the Circle able to mask its true motives. Furthermore, the fact that these species came from a seemingly abysmal region of the sea can work to highlight the dystopia that is being brought to the forefront of the society as a result of the Circle. Aside from the transparency, the movement of the creatures into the new tank is symbolic of the Circles overall shift towards control. The initial caregiver who opposed the movement that was replaced for “lack of visions” (471) could be equated to those, like Mercer, who rebel against technology and are destroyed because of it.

Moving on from the general symbolism of the animals, each species alone is extremely symbolic of aspects of culture. Most significantly, the shark is symbolic to the Circle. Like the Circle, the shark devours everything in its path and is never satisfied. Similarly, the Circle is a monopoly—because it destroyed its competition – and always hungry to take the next bite it can out of society and reproduce a white-ash-dystopia waste product. The seahorse, in my opinion being the most interesting, work to symbolize the workers at the company. This is supported in how the creatures react to being placed into the new habitat. The baby seahorses meandered in the tank while the parent hid within the coral (476). These babies are like the workers at the Circle who unknowingly created a monster in the way they aimlessly worked towards whatever they were instructed to without looking at the collective whole. The octopus can be a representative of Ty (aka Kalden) and those who oppose the Circle. This is because of the fact that as the shark is eating it, it puts up a fight. This is similar to how there are members of the government that oppose the Circle’s action and most significantly Ty who puts a valiant effort into stopping the closure of the company.

In the end unfortunately, the Circle (the shark) prevails. This is overall a great representation of the effects that technology can have on individuals lives. If, rather than being informed of the world around them, they instead become entrapped in the endless possibilities technology offers, chaos will result.

Destruction of Democracy

I’m not sure about everyone else reading this but, I cannot wait for November 8th when I get the opportunity to go to the polls and finally have my voice heard, express a freedom coveted in the United States and vote for the 45th president. I get to have a part in shaping history! Now, this is my opinion. There are many people who make the choice to abstain from voting. Whether because of lacking voter efficacy or personal qualms, it is also my opinion that, while not advisable, the decision to not exercise this right is up to them. Unfortunately, for those within the Circle’s society, democracy is being replaced with transparency resulting from Circle technology.

In theory, all the advancements create a utopia, yet in practice combination of such oversight digresses into a dystopia. Take for example the transparency seen in the government within The Circle. It seems practical, nothing can be hidden as a result; however, in terms of safety this fact put people in danger. Some things within the government need to be kept private for national security, as well as the ability to properly think through decisions. Having millions of viewers giving their opinions and ideas on how to run the government defeats the democracy set by the founding fathers. Another point that will destroy this is the use of Circle accounts to vote, pay taxes and overall run the government. Stenton stated that it would “[…] eliminate much of Washington” (395). This would eliminate a major check and balance, throwing the government into peril. Furthermore, it would put a private enterprise in charge allowing for them to manipulate reality such as how they did when framing Congresswoman Williamson who sought to separate the Circle, as it is a monopoly. In her case, she was put under investigation for ethical violations found on her computer (208). It is no coincidence that all she was being accused of was found on technology, an enterprise in which the Circle controlled. Ironically enough even the Circle lacks complete transparency and openness in their meetings. As a last piece of evidence for the destruction of democracy in The Circle, I cite the action that come after “closing” the circle. With the Circle closed, decision making will be completely removed from society. People will be indirectly controlled, watched constantly, and be scrutinized for anything deemed improper whether it has legal basis or not.

In conclusion, through the efforts of the Circle to gain complete democracy through transparency, democracy is destroyed. The crux of democracy is the freedom to choose right from wrong, the right to privacy, and the establishment that make it work.  So, on November 8th when you decide to vote or not, appreciate the fact that you had the ability to make that decision along with all the others you make on a daily basis.

Secrets, Secrets are no fun…

I can’t speak for everyone reading this, but I keep having to remind myself “close your mouth, Zac” because of how shocking the events continue to be. From the crazy “Dream Friday” presentations, to the voluntary-go-or-you’re-in-trouble events, I was in awe at the company’s herd-like mentality. However, selling the idea of transparency was the icing on the cake. I can’t help but imagine clear frames of people walking around with nothing to give to society, because everything they are is already known. Bailey’s guidance of Mae to present  SECRETS ARE LIES, SHARING IS CARING, PRIVACY IS THEFT yields to be terrifying because of the “real world” potential for this to happen.

On paper, the majority of these mantras make sense (the third is a little out there in my opinion but, still, I can relate). I can remember being taught not to keep secrets and the chanting of the childish rhyme “secrets, secrets are no fun, secrets are for everyone,” while people were whispering. Sharing, on the other hand, was never taught to me personally (I’m a twin so it comes with the territory), but society has drilled this idea into children every chance they got from television shows to books. Lastly, while more difficult to relate to the third mantra, as a child and even today I am told constant by my overprotective-but-good-intentioned mother “I gave birth to you so I have the right to know what goes on with you.” So, not to jump to any conclusions, but I’m sure you all can relate to the mantra in one way or another.

I would argue that Eggers created these three statements as a response to the real-world traction that they continue to hold. Pertaining to SECRETS ARE LIES, think about the ordeal with Edward Snowden. The American public was outraged at the fact that they were being listened to, but perhaps they were even more taken aback by the fact that the government had kept this hidden for so long. This mantra, while not to a ‘Circle” extent is present in society today. Moving on to SHARING IS CARING, again we can showcase roots in modern society. Take, for example, the mentality of entitlement that is said to pervade in the younger generations. This mentality didn’t appear out of thin air. It came from an overuse of sharing. The line between what is considered sharing and taking has been blurred as a result. Lastly, PRIVACY IS THEFT. In The Circle, Mae steals the kayak, not knowing a SeeChange was present in the area (275). In this case, the though of privacy did lead her to steal. It’s the same way in reality. Surveillance cameras and alarm systems are used in homes in order to deter people from breaking in or stealing because they are in a sense not alone.

Surprisingly enough, the mantra of this dystopian society are already present. This fact makes Eggers novel that much more terrifying because all it makes our present only a step away from The Circle’s “community.” Overall, while Americans teach less intensified versions, the mantras SECRETS ARE LIES, SHARING IS CARING, PRIVACY IS THEFT are present in reality whether people want to accept it or not.

One or the other

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.


New To Being a Newbie

“Heaven” or Happy Valley: I see no difference. Mae’s initial jaw-dropping “close your mouth or you’ll catch flies” impression of becoming a Circler only begins the running parallel of the striking comparison between life as a Penn Stater and that of a Circler relate. At this point, Mae and myself being “newbies”, have the unique ability to briefly observe the occurrences and practices of a culture offset from that of the world around us before the shell shock wears and we too become a part of the new world around us.

For starters, The Circle’s worldwide acclaim relates very similarly to that of PSU. From academics, research and athletics to an extensive alumni network, Penn State has it all, not to mention an incredible party atmosphere if you’re into that scene. The vast opportunities presented to both Penn Staters and Circlers allow for simultaneous enjoyment and productiveness, highlighting values on ethics and personal well-being for both cultures. Moreover, both The Circle and Penn State stress becoming engaged. For example, Mae’s first days on campus was filled with tours, meeting, a party, her first “Dream Friday”, andscreen-shot-2016-09-08-at-7-01-51-pm meetings with those in her work force to ensure she settles in contently which stress themes of unity and a culture centered around taking care of one another. Similarly, Penn State has Welcome Week events including [the following]: floor meetings, freshman convocation, LateNight, Be A Part From The Start, Deans Meetings, and an Involvement Fair. All in all, these events prove that “newbies” are welcomed with open arms. Fortunately, each campus didn’t act as if you’d be set to jump right in; after all, no matter how welcoming a culture is, it takes time to adjust. In Mae’s case, she was given training in her new job with supervisors, and Annie who checked in periodically to make sure she was doing well. In my case, as a Penn Stater, I have an RA, professors, an advisor, and network of friends who all have my back. These instances help to promote a secure feeling within the culture and an overall sense of ease. All in all, The Circle has members that are proud call themselves Circlers, just as I am proud to call myself a Penn Stater. It is this sense of pride that unifies the cultures.

However, no matter how delightful The Circle may seem clouded by its shiny technology or seemingly invested workers, Penn State far surpasses its campus and culture, because unlike the Circlers who are forced to participate in the community and [who are] mindlessly brainwashed into doing whatever is presented to them as a “choice,” Penn Staters actively contribute as students — and then as alumni — on their own free will. Furthermore, Penn Staters are entitled to privacy and individuality; we are not subjected to the transparency preached by The Circle. We are Penn State! We are diverse. We are a family. We are a community there for one another. And most importantly, we are all unique, and it is these differences that make Penn State, Penn State. WE ARE…

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