As a result of increased corporate ownership of data, we are living in an era of Internet/social media addiction. We see this clearly demonstrated by the behaviors of the characters in The Circle, but is best explained by Mae’s ex-boyfriend, Mercer. “The tools you guys create actually manufacture unnaturally extreme social needs. No one needs the level of contact you’re purveying. … It’s like snack food. … They scientifically determine precisely how much salt and fat they need to include to keep you eating. You’re not hungry, you don’t need the food, it does nothing for you, but you keep eating these empty calories. This is what you’re pushing. Endless empty calories, but the digital-social equivalent.“ (134) In other words, what Circle creates isn’t something the cyber citizen necessarily needs, but something addictive. Although The Circle describes a fictitious and futuristic society, it is frightening that the characters’ behaviors resemble our actions now. Nowadays, we rarely separate ourselves from our phones, using them and our media outlets as a way to post and share our every move with our Facebook and Instagram networks. Whenever a significant event happens, like the Presidential Election, everyone suddenly becomes an expert on the subject, sharing their knowledge and insights on Twitter. Sharing Economy is the modern version of neo-panopticon, since everyone is watching (or at least capable or watching) everyone else under the rating metrics in this highly connected and autonomous marketplace. In a nutshell, the emergence of new ideas enabled by new technology has provided us with seamless simplicity and convenience, but has also deeply shaped our social behaviors and online culture. The development of technology and sharing-economy is so rapid that it’s impossible to imagine what will unfold in the next decade.
When the data self overtakes the embodied self, we lose the control of how we live our life. Unfortunately, corporations own the data and from that, they want us to behave the way they desire, mostly the “unnatural” way.