What do you get when you combine “Big Brother” and our everyday social media interactions? You’ll get Netflix’s reality show “The Circle.”
The rules of the show are simple: Eight contestants live in apartments and can only talk to each other through a platform called Circle. After a couple of days, they rank their rivals based on how they perceive each other through their profiles and their interactions. The top two will then decide who to block. This process is repeated until their last day in “The Circle” apartments.
The winner of “The Circle” will win $100,000. That’s a pretty big sum for a game where you base your opinions of someone on what you see on their social media platform. We do this on a daily basis too, where’s our cash prize?
Jokes aside, I thought “The Circle” was going to be a shallow reality show that I can play as background noise. But I ended up binge-watching all 12 episodes in the span of two days because I was intrigued seeing how we judge each other through a screen.
Here are some observations from the show:
Profile photos and bios can make or break a person
People aren’t kidding when they say that your photo and bio say a lot about you. It’s true that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but the contestants of “The Circle” are proof that there are still people who perceive you as either shy, stuck-up, or trustworthy based on appearances alone.
The funny part is that contestants like Rebecca, Mercedeze, Adam, and Sean were catfishes trying to win the game by pretending to be someone else. They also made a good point that other contestants might not interact with them or rank them lower based on their looks.
“The Circle” is a game where many of the contestants really have to think about what to say so they can get the best possible outcome. (In this case, forming alliances and being saved from elimination.) Although many of them insist that they’re being 100 percent real in all of their interactions, there have been instances where contestants give compliments as a strategy.
This just shows that sometimes you can never know a person’s true intentions, especially if you’re meeting them online. So tread lightly if you have internet acquaintances or Tinder dates.
Posting bikini photos doesn’t mean you’re flirting
One problematic theme in “The Circle” is the casual sexism the contestants displayed toward some of the women. Model Miranda, for example, was accused of being a serial flirt by social media newbie Shubham because she chose to post a photo and a Boomerang video of herself in a bikini.
Does posting a photo of yourself in revealing clothes mean you’re going to flirt with everyone you meet? Of course not. People like Shubham need to realize that women don’t post such photos to please others, and women shouldn’t be pressured into doing so to catch somebody’s attention.
If you haven’t noticed by now, getting social media validation is the key to winning the show. If the contestants like what they see, they’ll like posts, vote for their Circlemates in challenges, and save them from elimination. We also see how contestants believe they’re likeable after they getting positive responses on their status updates.
We know how toxic social media can be, especially when you start obsessing over the number of likes and engagement you’re getting. “The Circle” may just be a game based on social media presence and how you’re perceived by fellow netizens, but we can see here how much likes matter and how people use it to measure success.
What is #real?
Contestants—at least the ones who aren’t catfishing—make a point of showing their true selves. But when catfishes like Mercedeze (aka Karyn), Sean, and Adam (aka Alex) revealed their real faces, some contestants made a big deal out of it and criticized them for not going in as themselves. (Shubham was one of them—is it obvious that I dislike him?)
It makes you think: Can they really criticize the Circle catfishes for using a different persona in the game? How can the contestants call themselves “real” if they strategize interactions and manipulate others in order to win?
If you ask us, only Joey, who’s known for being a party boy, showed his true self in the show. He may be the most annoying contestant upon entering because he seemed like a shallow dude, but his interactions were never calculated and he owns up to his insensitive comments.