The Circle is a Thriller is All Too Real

This thriller could easily be a documentary.

While going through my newsfeed looking for geek news for UTB Geek, I stumbled across a trailer for a new movie called The Circle. Starring Tom Hanks, Emma Watson, and John Boyega (he’s a storm trooper!) in a thriller, there was no way I was going to pass up this trailer.

Then I watched it. And I’m left not feeling so good.

In this reality, The Circle is the world’s largest and most powerful tech and social media company. Think Google and Facebook all wrapped up together. Tom Hanks plays the company’s founder Eamon Bailey, think the smarts of Mark Zuckerberg with the charisma of Steve Jobs. Emma Watson play the heroine of the story, the every-girl that gets a job at The Circle. Of course, things go wrong.

We watch in the trailer as her new workplace is shown to be just the perfect place to work, much like Google’s campus. However, she is being watched. The company knows all too much about her private life, and starts interfering. We can assume this interference is at first seen as a good thing, as we see the company does something for her ill father (although we don’t know what yet). Quickly we see that people are speaking to her about things that she would rather them not know.

“So May, do you think you behave better or worse when you’re being watched?” echoes a Tom Hanks voiceover, followed with “We have cameras in place, all over the world right now.”

Here’s the problem, real life is worse than that. Google and Facebook don’t have to have cameras in place all over the world right now, because there are already cameras in place all over the world right now. We carry them with us in our devices. And we freely share those images all over Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and any other social media we can get our hands on. No, tech giants don’t have to go to great lengths to collect information on us, all they have to do is collect that information which we choose to put all too freely out there.

We speak a lot of privacy here, and I’m sure most of our readers are very in-tune with their own cyber privacy. Unfortunately, we are far from the majority, and the majority doesn’t really think that much about privacy. Sadly, all too often, the way they treat privacy, impacts the privacy of those of us that do guard our privacy.

Those of us that guard our privacy, fear what can happen in a world where privacy matters. What can be collected on us. What can be used against us. There is a very typical response from those that do not guard their privacy of “I’ve got nothing to hide”. This movie looks to take those all too rationale fears and expedites the situation to one in which it looks like terrible things are going to happen. We can see from this trailer, that someone that should really have nothing to hide, has things like her father’s health used against her.

I’m not looking forward to this movie, because I know myself, and as I watch it, I won’t be watching it as someone watching a bit of escapist fantasy. No, I’ll be watching it as someone with a bit of knowledge about how the online world works, and I’ll be noticing how much of this fantasy is reality. There is something good that will come from this movie though. With this cast, we can be assured that many eyes will see this movie. And it will give the privacy minded an example to use when speaking to those that just don’t quite understand the situation our society has gotten us into.

The Circle arrives in theaters April 28th and I’d suggest we all watch it.

originally posted on UTB Blogs