How does technology impact human connections in The Circle?

Technology has an injurious impact on human connections in The Circle. PartiRank turns human interaction into a competition. Mae sends zings, joins discussion groups, and leaves comments to raise her rank, not to sincerely interact with other people. All of the cameras also have an adverse impact on Mae's relationships. When she walks in on her parents having sex, her followers see it, too.

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In The Circle, we think it's safe to say that technology has an unhealthy impact on human connections and interactions.

One of the ways in which we first see how technology influences how people relate to one another is through PartiRank. What is PartiRank? According to Gina,

It's just an algorithm-generated number that takes into account all your activity in the InnerCircle.

At first, Mae thinks how much attention she gives her PartiRank is up to her. What does she find out? She finds out it's not as optional as she thinks. Her ensuing determination to improve her PartiRank leads her to stay after work so she can send zings, RSVP to events, join discussion groups, post comments, leave constructive criticism, and so on.

After she brings her rank up to 3,887, she feels "a profound sense of accomplishment." She also feels "a near complete-sense of exhaustion."

You might want to think how PartiRank turns human interactions into a job or competition. Should connecting with other people be work? Maybe it should be work, but not the same kind of work that you do for money. More so, if you're connecting with humans just to look good for an algorithm, are you really connecting with other people? Do you think Mae sincerely cares about the people she zings or gives constructive criticism to?

We might say that the dominance of technology makes us question the sincerity of human interactions in The Circle. It seems like it's more for show than for actually getting to know someone else.

We might elaborate on our "for show" comment with SeeChange, and The Circle's goal to have cameras everywhere. When we're watched, or when we think we're being watched, how does that alter our human interactions? Do we really want to show the world everything we do?

Let's bring it back to Mae. Where do some of her most personal moments take place? We'd say that they take place in the bathroom—the one place that cameras can't go.

What does this tell us? Maybe it says if you really want to get to know someone in a deep and personal way, it's best to do it off camera and in private.

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