revised essay

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Sarah Joseph
Mr. Murray
UNIV 112
Essay Exam:
Can you remember a time when you took part in a cult- like organization or club?
(Attention- getter) A cult is defined as a group of individuals who take part in certain behaviors
that otherwise would not be taking place. They are often organized by a common belief or
thought about an ideology. Often times, these individuals hold ceremonies in an unconventional
manner to uphold its beliefs. Being a part of a social group can be a positive thing, but it is
important to remember that cult- like behavior can limit one’s free thought and action. (relevance
phase). Having the ability to differentiate when cult- like behavior is not acceptable is important
in order to peacefully coexist in our contemporary society.(Thesis) The Circle can be
characterized as a cult in the sense that it is grounded together by a set of similar opinions about
social media. Anyone who tries to dissuade others from these beliefs would be ridiculed and
criticized. This is best shown when readers are told why Mae detests Mercer so greatly and why
Ty has to hide as Kalden to complete his mission. The common belief or ideology at this
company would be their strong support for the advancement of technology. The faith that these
employees have put in technology has created a cult that is based on interdependence. The
interdependent relationship is evident when the employees at The Circle depend on technology
to do their work and technology is dependent on people to further advance in the near future.
The faith that both Mae and I had in our social cult- like organizations is important in order to
learn over time what behavior in our society is and should be considered acceptable. (preview)
Although Mae Holland does have the opportunity to leave the rigid holds that have
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confined her within The Circle, she ends up choosing to stay rather than being forced to. For
starters, it is evident that Mae desired to work at The Circle when she was first hired when she
states “’don’t worry. I’m happy to be anywhere here’” (16). She credits Annie for being the one
to get her this dream job as she “…wouldn’t have thought she had a chance to work at such a
place, but for Annie” (2). All she could talk about were the benefits of the company and the
beautification of The Circle as being “…as tall as a cathedral…four floors high on either side,
every wall made of glass” (3). This allows us to further infer that she had the option to resign,
but preferred not to. Even the way she spoke to her parents about her job as “[n]ever want[ing] to
work anywhere else’” (72) indirectly hints that her future is with the company. The first dinner
that she had with her mom and dad was her parents’ way of “treating her to a celebratory dinner
commemorating her first week at the Circle” (71). This shows how she feels about her new job
and that for her this job is more of a form of sanctification than of confinement. In her
perspective, The Circle does not possess any cult like qualities and is rather a contemporary way
of life and does not harm society in any way.
Mercer is also a resource that could have helped Mae resist the temptations of The Circle
if only she were willing to look at his outlook towards the company. However, her mindset is so
restricted to her beliefs towards her job that she never gives herself the opportunity to hear what
Mercer has to say. Even when her parents mention to Mae at their family dinner that Mercer has
“’…his own business. And not that he’d brag, but it’s apparently thriving’” (75), Mae ridicules
his job as “mak[ing] chandeliers out of antlers” (75) and changes the subject (by talking about
her score at The Circle). This highlights Mae’s self- centered personality and her ability to
constantly think the way a Circler would think. Even when Mercer converses with her about the
negative impacts of technology as a “’…third- party assault’” (131), all she thought about was
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how to use technology to further expand his business (a concept that Mercer clearly stated he
was against) as she “…posted her photo of the chandelier in two dozen design and home design
feeds, linking to Mercer’s website…and his email address” (256).
And lastly, Mae had the option to leave the Circle when Kalden (actually Ty) revealed his
purpose for working at The Circle and asked her to join him in his mission. Kalden first calls out
to Mae to tell her that her “’…watchers can’t hear me’” (323) and that “’most of what’s
happening must stop… The Circle is almost complete and Mae, you have to believe me that this
will be bad for you, for me, for humanity’” (323). When questioned a few minutes later, Mae
chooses to indirectly be honest by referring to Kalden as a “’…lunatic…babbling about the end
of the world’” (323) rather than revealing his actual identity (or the identity that she thought she
knew before finding out that Kalden is Ty). As the ambassador, she had the ability to work with
Ty and close The Circle down as a means to save society from technological devastation, but
ultimately, she chose to support the company instead. This shows that all this time, Mae had the
choice of choosing to stay with The Circle or not and that there was no resistance against the
company to begin with. Other than mere doubt, she supported the company all throughout.
The concept of temptation is best defined as a craving an individual can have towards
something. In a way, this form of enticement is human- nature and to avoid it would involve
much resistance. I have experienced a similar temptation to join a cult- like activity in the past
and was also able resist the urge to actually be a part of such a community, which would be a
direct contrast to Mae. In high school, there was this social activity held during after school
hours, when students would have spare time after their classes to interact with others. During this
chaotic time, students would have the opportunity to interact with friends, go running, play
soccer, basketball, kickball, scream at the top of their lungs, and more. The cool wind smelled of
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fresh, cut grass and people everywhere were enjoying the nice weather. There were people
everywhere, Frisbees being thrown in the air, varying screams and laughs coming from different
parts of the parking lot, and parked cars of varying colors scattered around the area like a busy
intersection after a long weekend. The community park was a five minute walk from this site and
people would go on walks between the park and back. A few miles away from the park, would
be dogs and their owners hanging out with others, having a picnic, and just having a good time.
People of all age groups would be interacting with others and just enjoying the free afternoon.
Besides the average day to day activities that normally took place at that time, one event
always present at this time was a student led group of cool kids sitting at the edge of their fancy
cars discussing about the latest gossip in town. They could be having a simple conversation
about classes or about the new scoop of who was dating who. I was initially a part of this cultlike group, but not for long. Cult like qualities present would be how they would in a way test the
individual to see if they were fit enough to be a part of the group, as if it were expected to either
pass or fail. During this time, they would discuss and judge the way a person dresses, talks, and
the way they carry themselves. Their ‘in- school’ reputation was often the key component that
would determine if they were worthy enough to be members of their so- called clique. I normally
would just sit beside them on a silver hood of a friend’s car like the rest of them, but would not
take part in their gossip of other people. I choose to stop associating myself with such a group
when I realized that they would regularly vote people in and out of their social group over time
to see who still fits in and who no longer does. They would have some sort of unspoken
connection that would relay messages to others in the group of who still qualified to be gossip
worthy. I had initially taken part in such a group to hang out and have fun with friends and
fellow classmates on a Friday afternoon before heading home for the weekend. I was welcomed
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in the group effortlessly because I had friends taken part in that social circle that accepted me
easily. I, in return, did not welcome the group with open arms soon after finding out what their
foundations were based upon. However, when I realized things were being taken too seriously in
the sense that the center of their conversation always had to do with someone else’s personal life,
I found my way out because my way of thinking was too different than the rest of them. To me,
it was ridiculous to have students test one another on their social skills, to gossip about fellow
classmates, and to sneer at simple people who they did not even know very well. The need for
these students to fit in was a vital component in their social group. Therefore, the created a form
of in- group/out- group situation, where the in- group would isolate themselves from the rest of
the students also present in the parking lot. This concept put into perspective of whether people
were even able to be themselves when around these cliques or was it all a montage of fake
Although the situation here was similar to Mark Water’s movie, Mean Girls, the
stereotypical characteristics present in the movie was not at all what reality was like. That was
the difference between reality versus fiction in the sense that you wouldn’t see teenage girls
wearing high heels, pink clothes and nail-polish, walking down the halls of high school as if they
owned the place. Here, it was just a collection of people- boys and girls- that did their own thing.
It seemed like an average Friday afternoon at a park or at the beach with family and friends.
They only cynicism present was the criticism these group of students would pass on about others
that would make anyone’s Friday afternoon more of a nightmare than a regular day after school.
Mae and I both had similar experiences when dealing with cult- like groups of people.
These two aberrant social groups were different in the sense that the Circle heavily relied on the
use of technological innovation to complete day to day activities on a regular basis. This concept
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is detested by some members of society (from the book) as they believe this deep reliance on
social media will one day lead to a societal downfall as mentioned by Mercer and Ty. The cult
aspect of it would be how anyone who held similar views to other Circlers would be a member of
the organization, whereas those who were not would be considered a peculiar member of society
who was questioned frequently. It puts into question if such a cult would therefore limit free
thought? Would it restrict one’s right to voice what they think or feel? If so, wouldn’t that
indirectly contrast the concept of transparency, where an individual’s thoughts are supposed to
be made public as if it were an expectation?
The difference between Mae and I is not only the fact that I chose to leave my cult- like
organization, where she chose to become a vital component of the company itself. The difference
between us is also our perception of whether these cult- like behaviors are societally acceptable
or not. Directly opposite to Mae would be how I would sit with the group of students and not
really be an active participant of the conversation itself. Mae on the other hand was eager to learn
all the varying components of The Circle and found nothing wrong with the structure of the
company itself. (review) I remained on the hood of my friend’s silver Honda Civic and made it
clear to them how disinterested I was in the conversation from the start. How will we be able to
have an open mind when all we have access to is the information that our cult like organizations
provide us with? (reminder phase) When questioned by Mercer or Kalden/Ty, she would judge
their lifestyle and turn the tables rather than actually thinking about the point they were trying to
make . For instance, Mae ridicules Mercer’s weight when she thinks about her earlier
conversation with him when he judged the way people depend on technology. She focused on the
superficial aspect of the conversation as in what was on the surface (the physical appearance),
rather than listening to the point he was trying to make. And although she was most at peace
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when she was kayaking, she still found nothing inappropriate about complete transparency. At
one time, she is upset with Francis for stating all her likes and dislikes in front of an audience
using LuvLuv. At a different time, she herself is always competing with herself to better her
score online. This internal struggle or dilemma of whether or not she supports complete
transparency is a concept that she refuses to admit and still immerses herself in the
technologically advanced culture at her workplace. Therefore the main difference would be how
when I was facing an internal struggle or moral dilemma, I chose to listen to my instincts and
leave the cult- like group, an act completely opposite of what Mae chooses to do, which is to
accept the new change as a way of life.(Restatement) The key to resolving such an issue is not to
become a part of it, but rather to learn from the mistakes you make in the past like I did and do
something about it in the near future (closing).