I spend a lot of time thinking about social media; not the “what” and the “how,” so much as the “why.”
A quest for answering these questions is likely why Dave Eggers' new book, The Circle was so interesting to me.
In The Circle, Eggers proposes a succinct and simple answer to these questions.
The Achilles’ heel of humans is we hate “not knowing” – not knowing what the future will hold, where exactly we fit in that future and, ultimately, when that future will come to an end and we die.
And we will go to extraordinary lengths to make that discomfort of “not knowing” go away.
In The Circle, Eggers takes avoiding the “not knowing,” puts it under the microscope and turns the question of why we do it into an allegory for our modern society.
Just how far will we go to make the discomfort of not knowing go away? Even if we take our quest to the very edge of what is technologically possible, helpful and sane, will that discomfort still be waiting for us just beneath the surface when we arrive?
Is being comfortable a goal we as a society are willing to pursue at all costs?
Eggers proposes that it is...
Most people would trade everything they know, every one they know -- they'd trade it all to know they've been seen and acknowledged, that they might be remembered. We all know we die. We all know the world is too big for us to be significant. So all we have is the hope of being seen, or heard, even for a moment.
Maybe he's right. Maybe he's wrong. The accuracy of Eggers' argument and the subtlety of his metaphors are really beside the point. (The Circle is a work of fiction, after all.)
The point is to ask yourself if the utopian, transparent future Eggers portrays is the stuff of your dreams or your nightmares, because some of these changes are already happening.
And that is an uncomfortable question we must all answer for ourselves.
I’m a consultant, strategist, author, educator, and speaker with more than 30 years of professional experience. I’m passionately curious, fairly sassy, kinda dorky and seriously good at what I do.