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Last Updated on August 5, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 558

In this interesting critique of living in a high-tech world, Eggers provides a glimpse into the life of a wide-eyed young woman, Mae, who is initially thrilled to work for a company called The Circle. However, as Mae works in the company, she transforms more and more to be like the cold, metallic, objective technology she works with. Social media becomes an all-consuming lifestyle.

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During Mae's first day at work on the company campus, she exclaims to herself, "It's heaven." As she is a competitive, hard-working professional, she seeks to excel from the beginning.

However, as Mae unravels the company's goals of exposing every person's life to all, she struggles internally. The company's two main slogans are "SECRETS ARE LIES" and "PRIVACY IS THEFT."

Eggers investigates the danger of one-dimensional living for anyone just interacting day by day over the internet.

And worse, you’re not doing anything interesting anymore. You’re not seeing anything, saying anything. The weird paradox is that you think you’re at the center of things, and that makes your opinions more valuable, but you yourself are becoming less vibrant. I bet you haven’t done anything offscreen in months. Have you?

Mae's boyfriend, Mercer, struggles with the consequences of Mae's work and actions.

“And it’s eliminated my ability to just talk to you.” He was still talking. “I mean, I can’t send you emails, because you immediately forward them to someone else. I can’t send you a photo, because you post it on your own profile. And meanwhile, your company is scanning all of our messages for information they can monetize. Don’t you think this is insane?”

Mercer challenges Mae to evaluate the impact of her work.

I mean, all this stuff you’re involved in, it’s all gossip. It’s people talking about each other behind their backs. That’s the vast majority of this social media, all these reviews, all these comments. Your tools have elevated gossip, hearsay and conjecture to the level of valid, mainstream communication.

Instead of living out experiences, Mae finds she just reads about them. She is challenged to examine her life:

I think you think that sitting at your desk, frowning and smiling somehow makes you think you’re actually living some fascinating life. You comment on things, and that substitutes for doing them. You look at pictures of Nepal, push a smile button, and you think that’s the same as going there. I mean, what would happen if you actually went? . . . Mae, do you realize how incredibly boring you’ve become?

Mae's transformation over time at the company marks the pressure she conforms to while she provides the expected outside appearance:

This was a new skill she'd acquired, the ability to look, to the outside world, utterly serene and even cheerful, while, in her skull, all was chaos.

Her work is too overwhelming for Mae.

That the volume of information, of data, of judgments, of measurements, was too much, and there were too many people, and too many desires of too many people, and too many opinions of too many people, and too much pain from too many people, and having all of it constantly collated, collected, added and aggregated, and presented to her as if that all made it tidier and more manageable—it was too much.

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