I just finished Dave Egger’s The Circle and so my antennae are up. It’s a chilling fantasy novel about a Google-like corporation that takes the direction the electronically-connected world is taking to an exaggerated extreme where everyone is visible 24/7 and responsible to document and share every second of their experiences. Very much like a modern 1984, but instead of Big Brother watching you, we are all watching each other, like Facebook on steroids. “Exaggerated extremes” I said, but now I’m sensitive to some of the signs that maybe they’re not as exaggerated as I think. And that’s terrifying.
One of the recurring scenes is someone tweeting or texting and ten seconds later writing, “You didn’t answer me. Is something wrong?” And so the ratio of 9 parts experience and 1 part documentation gets turned around to a constant commentary on every trivial detail of your life and accountability to share it.
I’ve noticed in airports lately that after going through security, there is a little place that asks “How was your experience?” And, I kid you not, another one coming out of the bathroom. I just bought a movie ticket online and this morning, Fandango is asking me how I liked their service and how I liked their movie. “None of your damn business!” I’m thinking and even more so with the bathroom question. It’s happening, people.
I think The Circle should be required reading and we should have mandatory discussion groups. Online of course, with Dave Eggers tweeting after each few pages we read, “How did you like my paragraph?” And dear readers, I ask the same of my blog. Please answer these questions:
1. How did you like this blog?
2. How did it compare to yesterday’s?
3. It’s been thirty seconds since I’ve posted this. Why haven’t you written?