Channel 4's new hit TV show The Circle has had a full week on air. It’s addictive viewing, kind of Big Brother meets Tinder, but there’s a more meaningful thought behind the fun and frivolity.
The programme evolves around players who live in apartments in a block of flats. It’s a popularity contest and they will never meet face-to-face. Instead, they’ll only contact each other through a social media channel called The Circle.
Players can pick and choose which photographs they want the others to see and update their profiles and statuses, just like Facebook. They can message each other and get involved in group chats.
A handful of players are being themselves, just what we’d expect, whise a couple are lying about who they are to try and win the £50,000 grand prize. It’s a popularity contest, so it doesn’t matter if you’re being yourself, or someone else, so long as you’re popular amongst the other players, you stand a chance of winning £50,000.
One chap, whose real name is Alex, is pretending to be a girl called Kate. He’s using photographs of his girlfriend to make his profile more realistic and has a little black book full of female facts. So far, Kate has been an influencer (the most popular amongst the group) and has even been on a date, which was slightly awkward.
The other person pretending to be someone else is Sinead. She’s a twenty-something from Wales in real life, but in The Circle she’s pretending to be a 65-year-old man called Christopher. She’s using photographs of her granddad to complete the look and the players absolutely love him.
Become blocked in The Circle by the influencers, the most popular in the group at a given time, and you leave. You then get to see one of the players in real life – will they be who you expected them to be?
Although the programme is fun and entertaining, it does raise a well-known point regarding social media. Do we really know who is on the other side of that tweet, that Instagram post, that Facebook status? We can be whoever we want to be, which can cause so many problems. Look at all the trolls on social media – would they really say half the stuff they write to someone in real life?
It’s easy to hide behind technology and be someone completely different and fool other users into thinking you’re that person. The Circle shows us just that.
The Circle is on Channel 4 Sunday to Friday from 10:00pm (10:15pm on Tuesdays).
Written by Ian Pinnell