In the history of psychology, the introspective method has long dominated, starting from the idea that humans have direct access to their own presence and reality. By observing knowledge from the perspective of introspection, it can be implied that being aware of yourself can be conceived as an inner look, as an act of self-reflection. After centuries of self-knowledge being the apogee of philosophy, along with the methods of modern psychology, a scientific explanation of this path has surfaced. According to lines traced by Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, self-knowledge is an affective and cognitive process that develops with age and experience. From a psychological point of view, the complex process of self-knowledge involves several dimensions: the present, the future and the ideal self. The present ego consists of the social, physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual dimension. The future ego is characterized by how an individual perceives his personal development potential, his repertoire of aspirations and motivations. The last dimension is that of the ideal self, which reflects what the individual seeks to represent. Self-knowledge and self-acceptance are fundamental variables in optimal functioning and adaptation to the social environment, in order to preserve a balance between mental and emotional health. According to Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, each person is valuable and, in light of the human nature, has the capacity to develop and to choose its own destiny, to validate its qualities and positive characteristics, given that society provides a polished environment in which it is possibility for the self to enhance.
On another hand, according to determinists such as Marx, technologies such as rating systems, through the power of the internet, are not controlled by men, but, on the contrary, technologies control the people by shaping a society according to the requirements of efficiency and progress (Ellul 1964). Determinists usually argue that technology uses advanced knowledge of the natural world to serve the universal characteristics of the human essence, such as basic needs and human faculties. Each one responds to a significant discovery aspect of society’s characteristics of existence. Food and shelter are such demands and stimulate progress. Revolutionary inventions such as automobiles ‘replace’ feet, while computers enhance mental abilities. It’s not in an individual’s power to adapt technology to its whims, but he must rather adapt to these changes as the most significant expression of our race (Chandler 1977).
A suitable example where instantaneous rating system makes a difference is in the Uber universe (whose new 2016 inverted “C” logo resembles the one used in the 2017 movie “The Circle”), where drivers come with a history that is concretized in a rating, customers being evaluated as well. Therefore, Uber employees know the person they are about to travel with. These applied technology gives an insight of a world where many of the daily activities are already constantly monitored and analyzed: purchases, friends and interaction, hours spent watching content, playing video games, as well as the names of the video games you play and movies you watch. Privacy is at risk and, therefore, anonymity gradually becomes a luxury.
In my opinion, Egger’s book depicts a world very similar to ours, where the power of the internet is widely accepted, despite being, ironically, very ambiguous through its consuming transparency. TruYou, the password system that ensured The Circle’s domination, reminds me of the open plans advertised by companies such as Google, Facebook or Apple, desiring to connect everyone by using the power of their devices and services. They are feeding us instruments that our society cannot live without anymore. The rewarding cycle, and the effects of dopamine every time you get a like, a positive response or feedback on social media are changing the ways we observe our society and, therefore, our selves. We are an inpatient generation that wants everything ‘now’. An industry where “All that happens must be known.” Or in a more Orwellian turn: “Secrets are lies, Sharing is caring, Privacy is theft.”
Therefore, our society is going through a tumultuous change, as organizations and leaders try to promote more transparency, through instantaneous rating systems and other techniques. Dave Eggers novel does an excellent job of exposing beliefs, movements and the problems technology is brining into our human culture, providing points throughout his writing that caution us about a system that could replicate that of The Circle. As a young student of entrepreneurship, I have the obligation to evaluate my priorities and that of the world, understanding that working alongside my community and becoming one consolidated force must be my ultimate achievement.
When demanding times come, companies and their representatives can reach deep into their mutual beliefs and principles, so that they could work together on bigger causes and greater results (Deal, Kennedy 1988). However, the desire of ‘making our voices heard’ should not get to a point where it deprives us from our freedom of individuality, in which life becomes an amorphous mass of ideas and manifestations that lack originality. Since progress also rises from contradictions, a perfect society is a utopia.