On Monday I watched The Circle in the movie theater. I went with my Mum who obviously belongs to a totally different generation than me. While I didn't grow up with the Internet, it (as well as Social Media) defined my teenage days and to an even greater extend my adult days so far. My Mum on the other hand works with technology and apps but privately she doesn't even have a Facebook account. So, while she is quick to spot the dangers of Social Media, I can relate more to The Circle's protagonist Mae.
In short the movie is about a Social Media firm called The Circle which starts to take over all aspects of life until you can't participate in the society anymore if you're not on Social Media (your life may actually be in danger if you choose to stay of it - and your basic civil rights might be paused). Of course the book was a million times better (especially since the ending felt a lot more real and shocking) but the movie is still pretty good. I think The Circle by Dave Eggers should be mandatory reading for all middle schoolers. But if you won't bother to read it, at least watch the movie.
The whole discussion about the pros and cons of Social Media is more important than ever. I can think of so many examples of people being (at least mentally) harmed because of something that was posted on Social Media. A You Tuber who got death threats for posting a video about her abortion. Everyone freaking out because of a single emoji a musician posted beneath another musician's Instagram pic. My friend reporting faschist propaganda on Facebook to the athourities several times always without any results. In general, the whole hypocracy of Facebook's rules where posting a single tit will get you blocked immidiately but hate and racism and threats will stay online.
Still I think that it's not all bad. In contrary, Social Media is amazing in so many ways. It helps you to connect with friends as well as to further your business and career. It gives you inspiration and it enables you to spread your thoughts. Many important topics have gained awereness solely through the power of Social Media. Transparency, which is the main issue in The Circle, in itself is not bad at all. I think we could all use some more transperency, especially when it comes to politics. So much is so fake nowadays that people crave transparency which is why bloggers, You Tubers and Social Media celebrities who are vulnerable and authentic go viral.
I think the thing we have to realize is that the Internet is no Wild West, it's no No Man's Land. Whatever laws your country has, they also have to be applied to the Internet. Human Rights have to be accepted also in the virtual worlds. Because behind most user names are real people (well except sometimes there are just Social Media bots) and they have rights and duties, no matter if they act in the real world or in the Internet. It's not that hard to persecute Internet criminals. Everyone can be tracked down. The problem is not with Social Media it's with the way we treat each other. Hate is never okay - neither offline nor online.
So yes, I think The Circle resonates very much with our time and it's essential to be aware of the dangers of Social Media and to stop it from taking over lives. But I still believe that Social Media can be a wonderful tool to better the world if we do it right.