Unit I essay

James Nguyen
Question B Essay
We all to need to have a way to relax from the chaos that is reality; while some relax by
spending time with friends, some can relax by being alone. Under an all-seeing eye in the form
of a totalitarian rule by those who use social media obsessively, some might feel disturbed. Mae,
the main protagonist of The Circle by Dave Eggers, shows how the loss of privacy and relaxation
can cause people to stress out and feel disoriented. Comparing my own experiences and Mae’s, it
will help broaden our knowledge on the cause of stress and anxieties from the world around us.
Mae is most at peace when she is away from others to signify the importance of privacy
and personal space in a transparent world. From the start, it did not feel as though Mar actually
belonged at the Circle. Everything and everyone who had a secret or hidden outing was supposed
to share it with the entire world. During Mae’s first mention of kayaking in the novel, there was
no one to be seen around the bay. However, “Mae had no complaint; it left more water for her”
(81). This shows Mae’s pleasure in privacy as she isolates herself from society to enjoy the
serenity of nature. The narrative also shifts focus from the bustle of people chattering within the
Circle to simple details of the environment that surrounds Mae as she glides across the water
bay. There was no need for transparency in these times because the feeling of privacy created
from this is a calming experience for her. In the middle of her kayaking, Mae “just sat still,
feeling the vast volume of the ocean beneath her” (83). Mae does not know what is down there,
but she still feels fairly peaceful. What is underneath her does not matter because she finds a
calming sensation of not knowing, that there is nothing to be afraid of when it comes to secrets.
Being lost to Mae is not something to fear but feels like a new adventure; to look into the
unknown to the point where, to her, “there seemed no reason to go anywhere” (84). She felt no
desires because she was where she wanted to be, at peace in her comfort zone. She could clear
her mind to relax in isolation and “she’d been free of thoughts of her parents, of Mercer, of the
pressures at work” (145). For a majority of the book, Mae is confronted by several conflicts in
which she feels trapped or forced to comply to those around her, and kayaking is what keeps her
stable during these times. Doing simple tasks and hobbies is not something to document your
entire life, but rather something to enjoy on your own. If you want to share your adventure, that
is fine; but some people just want to have a relaxing day to themselves.
When Mae has finally assimilated into the Circle and their mottos of transparency, all of her
actions seem quite hectic and sporadic. While Mae does not seem to admit it, her job at the
Circle is stressful for her mental health. Every sentence in these sections are completely detailed
to the point of sloppiness; the amount of information that is constantly being displayed to the
reader is disorienting. Even when Mae sees Kalden and slows down the narrative, there is still
things occuring in the background, such as Danielle talking about the shark, and the whole day
feels hectic. This is noted in that Mae feels she has to coordinate her time, like looking
inattentively at a sport session for exactly two minutes to think on Kalden and to entertain her
viewers at the same time. Because of this, “she felt this paralysis, caught between entirely too
many possibilities and unknowns”, suffocated by the amount of thinking that she had to do
before she goes off schedule (326). With people watching your every move, any difference in
schedule can catch the attention of the viewers and that might cause inquiries. There inquiries
lead to rumors, leading back to the point of secrecy and private thinking. Secrets are an eventual
concept and Mae continues to do so when she think about Kalden without trying to mention him
to her viewers or any outside sources until the very end of the book. Even on camera, people can
still wonder what is happening and that complete transparency is actually incomplete in its
function. The amount of buzz around one person could possibly drive them insane, and that is
especially shown in Mae. Despite her love for transparency and doing well for the Circle, it is
evident that it drains a lot of her mental strength. This is commonly shown in the later parts as
something known as the blackness. This blackness tends to happen when she is doing work on
the computer and answering replying to messages at the same time, due to the overload of
interaction in one session. When this occurs “the blackness [sweeps] through her, her mouth
tastes acidic, and it only seems to heighten her panic” (377). These panic attacks happen often as
Mae seems to understand what is happening to her during the interval it happens. In fact, she
calms down by listening to her voice from the first month that she was in the Circle, when she
“sounded bright and fierce and capable of anything” (333). Another version of the blackness is
known as the tear, which occurred when she was scrolling through her updates at her desk job.
Mae describes it as “underwater screams” and “an unbearable hiss”, as though something was
screaming inside of her. (336). While she seems soothe it with rest, it reappears abruptly during
what seems to be a random time at work. The rip is then described along with a “light trying to
get through” and another reference to the underwater screams (378). Aside from alluding to
Mae’s anxiety problems, it also references her desire to escape into privacy, particularly thought
kayaking. The underwater scream are her subconscious, which she has been completely ignoring
to the point of self-damage, trying to tell her to take a break. Mae has created a barrier by piling
it under work, so when she is doing the standard work on a basic level, the tear starts to open
again. She is able to fend off this panic attack by into the rhythm of the survey, which is a
constant and regular stream of work that generally takes out a moderate portion of attention to
do. These examples show how privacy is a time to create space for yourself and just relax rather
than having to entertain viewers on a camera feed. Privacy is a necessity for the brain to function
and without it relaxation is taken away as well, which I can relate to. Compared to Mae’s
outdoor relaxation methods, I calm down by escaping into technology, showing a spectrum of
the variety of options in relieving stress.
In contrast, my feeling of privacy is in a way inverted from Mae’s. While she likes to go
kayaking outdoors to find peace, I find it by aimlessly wandering the internet. While she finds
panic in sitting at a desk doing her job, I get anxiety from leaving my living quarters and going
outside into the world. I generally watch videos on Youtube, read over the posts of those I follow
on Tumblr, and read Japanese comics from a site known as Batoto. My solace is interesting by
the fact that I am essentially doing what Mae finds to be hectic. I like the quiet understanding
between most on the internet to not step into another’s private accounts and rather to take things
at face value. There is no prejudice or expectation to the people you meet or talk to online so
there is no tension in conversation. Going outside and say, getting a job, is even more stressful as
people will try to get a background on who you are looking at your appearance; how you dress,
how you talk, how you act, your skin color, and even your age. All of these factors make me
scared to go outside and adventure because I do not know how to handle talking to others,
especially if I cannot remember who they are. Just yesterday I was walking down North Laurel
street only to see my cousin Bridget, who I haven’t seen in months, possibly years. She seemed
to recognize me immediately while I did not realize who she was, probably because my face has
not changed in so long. I quickly pretended to be a bit dazed from all the all-nighters I had to do
down at the Bowe street deck as an art student and went along my way after giving her my phone
number. Only when I went out for dinner with another cousin did I realize who she was and felt
completely ashamed. My cousin also gave me some crap for it, saying I was a jerk for forgetting
who she was. If it were on the internet, I would not feel the pressure of having to remember a
face and instead remember their mannerisms and how they talk to me to understand who they
are, not by their appearance. This has not been the only time during this month in college where
physical confrontation had made me feel down. For the first two weeks for my Space research
class, I was late; one was for oversleeping, another was for panicking over homework for too
long in the morning. My teacher, Ms. Leigh, believed I was just going to be a problem student
and going to continue to do so despite me promising repeatedly her that I will do better. She
bluntly replied that those promises do not mean anything if I did not go through with them,
which made me feel terrible for something I already apologized for. It was irritating, degrading,
and made me dislike an art class and its teacher for the first time. I would have honestly cried if I
did not know how to reign in tears. After the class, I went to my computer heavily and stayed on
it for a majority of the day after finishing homework, and I felt refreshed and renewed after
seeing several people from across the nation having similar problems and anxieties. It just felt
refreshing to be able to sympathize with other people on that kind of level. From these two
perspectives, an understanding can be met on how this this relates to the world around us.
Comparing my own relaxation methods and Mae’s, I see that people can have different
ways to relax, and the Circle is actually a solution to one of those relaxation methods. Under
complete transparency, people who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear and can find solace
in knowing that the people around them cannot hide anything either. A peace of mind is created
where the whole world can be seen from a television screen and broadcasted until the system
decides to stop. However, this causes other people with different methods of coping with stress
to feel the tension of being seen 24/7. Those who could have paranoia or similar mental illnesses
might be worse than ever from exposure to the cameras. The need for privacy might be so great
that revolts might appear shortly after complete transparency is created. This is exactly what
happens to Mae; despite her love for the Circle and what it can do for humanity with its
technological advancement, it does takes away the privacy she needs to cope with the stress she
accumulates over the book. Without the isolation and calm created from kayaking in an open
bay, her only means of relaxation is desensitization of the world around her through the survey.
Even then, the ‘tear’ and the ‘blackness’ still comes out of her, still craving some kind of privacy
in a world that does not have any. With her relaxation methods diminished, Mae’s mindset is
more vulnerable to the ideas that surround her, including the ones that endanger her own calming
methods. In conclusion, Mae’s anxiety of her work and relaxation from her isolation is a good
example of how someone has to cope with the transformation of the world around them and their
helplessness in doing so.
People always want to relax in their own ways, but world does not change to compensate
for these demands of relaxation. We all relax in our own ways, and events out of our grasp can
cause us to feel stressed and afraid. We are afraid of how the world is going to change to fit
others and not ourselves, and how that will change the way we look at aspects of our lives and
vice versa. Change is in evitable, so people would just have adapt to the situation or be left
behind to figure out another way to live.