Social networking : the dialectics of sharing

Y. Van Den Eede, K. Gabriels

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In our times of intense use of social networking sites (SNSs), the expression “sharing is caring” has become a veritable motto—used sometimes in earnest, sometimes jokingly, sometimes cynically. Dave Eggers in his novel The Circle (2014) takes it a step further. He sketches a picture of a world in which sharing does not just constitute caring: it becomes the norm. In the story, a particularly popular and successful social network company, The Circle, strives toward market dominance, aiming to infect the whole planet with its ideology. That ideology centers on one notion: transparency. The type of transparency that The Circle envisions, however, is radical: it entails transparency of everything. As one company slogan reads: “All that happens must be known” (67). In a speech to the employees, one of the founders, Bailey, describes—loudly cheered on by the crowd—the ultimate ideal:

Folks, we’re at the dawn of the Second Enlightenment… . an era where we don’t allow the majority of human thought and action and achievement and learning to escape as if from a leaky bucket. We did that once before. It was called the Middle Ages, the Dark Ages… . As we all know here at the Circle, transparency leads to peace of mind… . ultimate transparency. No filter. See everything. Always… . We will become all-seeing, all-knowing.

(67–70) Eggers’s book reads as a warning cry against the market-imperialist tendencies of currently dominant information and communication technology (ICT) companies such as Facebook and Google. Those seem to be grounded just as much in an ideology of progress and technical rationality: if only we have the right technological means, the right data, the right algorithms at our disposition, combined with the proper mindset of openness and willingness to change, we will be able to create a new and better world.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSpaces for the future
Subtitle of host publicationa companion to philosophy of technology
EditorsJ. C. Pitt, A. Shew
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9780203735657
ISBN (Print)9781138848979
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Van Den Eede, Y., & Gabriels, K. (2017). Social networking: The dialectics of sharing. In J. C. Pitt, & A. Shew (Eds.) (2017). Spaces for the future: A companion to philosophy of technology. New York: Routledge, pp. 42-53.


Dive into the research topics of 'Social networking : the dialectics of sharing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this