A Review of "The Circle" by Nathan H. Box
Starring: Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, John Boyega Director: James Ponsoldt, Writer: James Ponsoldt (Screenplay)
Rating: 3 Stars, STREAM!
As I write this review, I belong to 25 different social media sites. They range from the usual suspects like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to more specialized tools focused on movies, gaming, and politics. Depending on my mood and what I think I am missing out on, I check each with varying degrees of regularity. Some time ago I realized these sites, particularly the big three, were having a negative impact on my life. I was obsessively checking each, not paying attention when I was out to dinner with friends, missing magical moments stuck behind a camera phone, and maintaining friendships only through websites. Once this realization hit me, I worked hard to change my habits. I haven't lessened the number of sites to which I belong. I have changed the control they are allowed to have on my life.
"The Circle" dreams of a world where a social network of the same name exists much like a cross between Facebook and Google. In this all too familiar world, every bit of our world is documented via video and posts. Secrets are seen as lies and transparency is the ultimate good. To choose otherwise is a betrayal to your fellow human beings. As the site grows in the strength, they push regulations requiring people to vote in elections through their site, requiring membership for everyone. If this seems farfetched, Google "Voting through Facebook." These ideas are already floating around Silicon Valley and the halls of congress.
Many things frightened me about this movie. The biggest being the fact that nothing is sacred. Face-to-face friendships lose their meaning when we don't know how to interact with one another except behind a screen. When we live and die based on likes, shares, and retweets, our sense of self is set up to be disappointed when those things fade away. When we worry about capturing the sunset, concert, or moment, do we really experience it in its purest form? Our friendships, confidence and those moments meant for only us lose their sacred nature. This is to say nothing of the privacy implications.
Social media, like anything else, is a tool. It can be used for good or evil. It can add value to our lives or it can distract. How we use it and how we interact with it is entirely up to us. The choice is ours to make. If I learned anything from this movie, it is this; distance yourself even further from these tools. I am not advocating a complete breakup. Rather, it was impressed upon me to be in the moment and be satisfied with not sharing everything.
Be good to each other,