MAE, we Help You?
There’s no question that technology is evolving every day and the power it holds keeps growing. Technology has become essential in people’s lives, and some can’t seem to bear the thought with out it. But what if the one thing we need, and thrive off of is the one thing that’s hurting us the most? In Dave Eggers novel “The Circle”, which happens to be the name of a company that owns and controls all of the internet, and essentially anything that is technological there’s evidence that technology is convenient to the point where you can act a certain way to be perceived how you want. Self happiness is what makes people grow, if we are always striving to impress others we will never be able to be true to ourselves. The circle’s determination for world domination and their goal to be connected as a community come across as pure to most, like Mae the protagonist of the novel who receives a job at the circle, thrilled to begin her new life but over time starts living her life for others. even though she is oblivious to this concept through out the whole novel that’s exactly what the circle wants people to think; that everything is fine. The ability to stay connected with others through social media and electronics is convenient, yes, but lack of face to face interaction can cause negative effects such as depression, low self esteem, along with loss of individuality.
Mae enters her job with over whelming enthusiasm, feeling blessed to have the opportunity to work for the world’s largest technological company. She starts out fairly unknown as an employee but quickly climbs the professional ladder, not that she really had a choice. She just chose to embrace it, which makes me wonder if she only chose that because other people were? since the moment Mae arrived at the circle, it wasn’t stressed enough by her co workers and the Wise men A.K.A her bosses, the importance of being known and staying connected with others. At one point in the novel Mae goes transparent, which means she wears a camera on her shirt at all times where viewers can watch and listen to Mae as they please. She adjusts to her transparency easily, but finds herself living to get the appropriate reactions from her viewers and not to simply please herself. Mae starts to change her lifestyle in order to get positive feedback, but she finds herself not always enjoying the activities she’s engaged in and instead acting like she was interested because that’s what her viewers expected. In the article Facebook users’ engagement and perceived life satisfaction, Tammy vigil proposes information that suggests people who use Facebook feel that their friends lives are better then their own and in return have lower self esteem (Chou and Edge (2012). Though Mae comes across as always happy, that’s not necessarily true. Mae feels gratification when she receives positive feedback from her viewers instead of expressing her own feelings; which can cause low-self esteem. If your’e always worried about what others are thinking you can not concentrate on yourself and becoming a better person, instead you become what other people perceive as “good”.
In order to be successful and have self worth, one must realize how much they are capable of achieving on their own. If praise is constantly being sought, people will lose motivation to discover things if no one is there to give immediate gratification. Mae, along with her co-workers are driven by the satisfaction of others, weather the circle workers have personal relations or not to the viewers watching. Mae finds herself dwelling on the responses of her viewers, when a new experiment is presented to the company, where daily surveys are sent out and all of the circle’s employees must answer. After a number of demonstration questions, the last one popped up on screen and read, “Is Mae Holland awesome or what?” Mae pressed the “frown” button, assuming sh’d be the only one to do so. she wasn’t ready to cope with the minor negative feedback from her other co-workers that also chose the “frown” button to the question. Eggers write, “Who were these people? What had she done to them? They didn’t know her. Or did they? and what kind of community members would send a frown to someone like MAe who was working tirelessly with them, for them, in full view?” (p. 223). Instead of Mae having self criticism from past actions she’s unhappy with, she’s seeking acceptance from people that only know her the way she wants to be known. Mae struggles with consistently expressing her real emotions in sacrifice for others, even though the concept of transparency is being able to live an honest life, Mae, who is considered a leader of this movement, struggles to be true to herself…so how will we ever know what is real and what is being said just to get the right reactions by others? The more time Mae spent online, the more she started questioning her actions, though they weren’t necessarily unethical, but more of her deep, true, emotions.
Technology allows communication with out face to face interaction which can be good for people trying to maintain personal relationships over long distance. In the Circle, Mae strives to stay connected with strangers, so when she receives negative feedback she becomes offended and anxious as to why people that don’t know her are mis judging her, even though she tries to obtain an upstanding lifestyle. Mae can’t constantly please everyone, which in return makes her less happy. As Tammy discussed perceiving others’ lives versus how we perceive our own, in another academic journal, Amet Ahkin explains that greater internet use can also be linked with poor social skills and emotional skills (Internet addiction, subjective vitality, and subjective happiness). As mae becomes more engaged in her job, she struggles to maintain her relationship with her family, and even her best friend Annie who works at the circle with her. Annie attended a business trip, and even though Mae had full access to communicate with Annie, Mae still felt anxious when she didn’t get an immediate response from her who friend, whom she knew was busy.
In order to be connected as a community we must first be connected to ourselves, and only then, humanity can grow. unfortunately this is a concept Mae fails to grasp through out the novel. The few moments mae comes across as happy, is when her viewers are. Mae is connected to strangers all over the world, but her personal relationships with her family, lovers, and friends deteriorates once she focuses most of her time on others, that she doesn’t even know. Mae tries to locate her ex-boyfriend Mercer. At first he can’t be found so Mae decides to use the circles technology to find out where mercer is. Mercer is in great opposition of the circle’s objective, and doesn’t want anything to do with new world order of technological domination that the company has in store. Mae grows extremely anxious when trying to locate Mercer, therefore her viewers become anxious and take it upon themselves to “help” Mae. This situation is what put Mercer over the edge, literally. He had no desire to be known or heard by all, and so far he was living his life happily with that decision. Mae thought she knew what was best for him, instead of talking to him alone which wasn’t an option, she made his business everyone else’s. Eggers states, “Okay”, Mae said, knowing she was about to wow the audience. “release the Drones!” She roared in a voice meant to invoke and mock some witchy villain” (p.250). Mae had a deep personal connection with this man, but the will to feel accepted and the feeling of power provokes her to follow through with unethical actions, that drives Mercer into a state of insanity, and when finally she locates him through the help of her viewers, he takes his own life and drives off the side of a bridge, as his life seems not nearly as important to the lives of Mae’s mysterious audience.
Mae thrives off of immediate gratification, from her viewers of virtual reality. Over time Mae looses sense of reality and she is convinced that personal privacy is irrelevant, yet all of her personal relationships have been damaged due to the lack of privacy she has. Mae was misguided through the words of authoritative figures, and instead of having a voice of her own, she just learned to say the right things to be heard. So it’s easy to say, everything on the internet is definitely all not true.