So we watched it. And the implications of the story scared the bejeebers out of me, but the story itself left me feeling flat. Have you ever come across that with a story? Of course, if you are wondering, I am talking about The Circle (Lionsgate 2017).
The concept itself is something nightmares are made of. A huge tech company is able to insinuate itself in our lives so completely that any thoughts of freedom and privacy are completely erased. And I mean as the story unfolds we see this happening and spiraling out of control. There is nothing we can do about it. These people are sitting in a boardroom and asking the question “Can we do this?” And never once bothering to ask if they should.
It is the reality we are faced with everyday. We see reports in the news and the click bait headlines that tell us of the crazy things going on with tech all around us. We have fears that the latest always on device in our house is spying on us for what ever business is hoping to steal all our information and sell it back to us through advertising. There is a list miles long of all the questions and fears we are building on a daily basis of how we are slowly giving up parts of our lives.
But wait, maybe not. See, this is the scarier part portrayed in the movie. All of the things they propose seem like good ideas. The benefits that come from them seem so simple and revolutionary. All of them make us better people or make our lives so much better in simple ways. How could we not succumb to the lure of better in our lives?
And now I say the most trite thing possible to share the folly of this whole thing… The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Our first clues to the horrors come early on within the story when people within the company are trying to help Mae (Emma Watson) set up her social networks within the company. They mention that she hasn’t participated in the voluntary social interactions available on the campus. Of course they are voluntary, but she is expected to join in. I mean, you don’t want to appear like you aren’t willing to participate do you?
All through the build up of the movie, I flipped back to WTF. This type of stuff is so easily possible within our world right now. And without the same thoughts to the implications. That’s the scariest part of it, the thought that it could actually happen or even worse, is happening as we are reading this right now. When you consider there are stories about companies microchipping their employees right now…
But I digress…
See where the story actually lost it for me came from the end. We have all this build up and we see a bit of the tragedy and fallout that this level of crazy can bring into our lives. And the ending does little to relieve the tension. More to the point, it just fades out.
They had left the ending a little ambiguous. This wouldn’t have been so much of a problem if they had given us a solid direction to follow on our own. Instead we are pretty much cut off where the insanity is taken up another notch and then the allusion to Mae walking away from it all. It felt like they needed another chunk of movie to tell the story of the fall out of her final actions within the company. Mind you, we don’t actually know if she actually left the company.
Another part of the problem with it, at least for me, isn’t exactly within the ending itself. It all comes from the build up. The thing of it is, the story itself is a bit too much on the nose. The company is a stand in for a current large tech company right now. Without naming names, you know who I am talking about. This tech company has insinuated itself into so much of our lives, it can feel like we have already given up quite a bit of who we are already.
But the difference between the story and reality is, we still have a choice in how our lives go. We have some semblance of privacy and freedom to choose within our own spheres. We are still able to see the dangers ahead and question the direction the crazy ship is going.
The question remains, when the lure of subtle safety comes our way, will we be able to see what we are giving up to grasp it?
If you enjoy these stories, consider leaving some coffee money in the jar or you could buy a book or two. Either way helps keep the stories flowing.