Distracted Living, Tech

Solitude is weird

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OK, that’s not what I think. In fact, I’m a fan of solitude. But in the world of The Circle, Dave Eggers’s compelling novel about a powerful internet company, solitude is viewed as, well, really strange.

In one of my favorite scenes, the book’s protagonist, a new employee of the Circle named Mae, is confronted by two HR reps who are dismayed that she didn’t share—or record—the details of a solo kayak trip. Here’s part of their exchange.

“You kayaked?” Josiah said. “Where?”
“Just in the bay.”
“With who?”
“No one. Just alone.”
Denise and Josiah looked hurt.

And a bit later in this section, Josiah essentially calls her out for being selfish by not sharing: “It’s just maddening, thinking of how much knowledge is lost every day through this kind of shortsightedness.”

The book puts a spotlight on the perils of a world where solitude is strange, online friending is a must, and everything is recorded. I wrote about this in a recent column: 8 internet perils highlighted by “The Circle.”

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