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Fictional text (2)


Task

Analyze how Mercer attempts to persuade Mae to change her online behavior. Give evidence from the text.

Solution

Mercer and Mae were in a relationship, and broke up with each other at some point. Nevertheless, they seem to be in contact rather regularly. This contact mostly happens via social media, because Mae is completely focused on it. Mercer does not like Mae’s online behavior. In his opinion, she opens up herself and everything around her to the public, and to all the other people in this dystopian society. At the beginning of the given excerpt, Mercer appeals to Mae’s understanding. He describes his own perception of their interaction (for example, “It becomes like we’re never alone.” l.5). He goes on to state that she does not notice him herself, but looks at him “through a hundred other people’s eyes” (l.6). This is a metaphor which expresses that Mae is not able or willing to rely on her own impressions and individual thoughts, but seems to need other people to help her see someone, or even to think independently. Mercer repeatedly uses the very private level between himself and Mae to try to open her eyes and show her that she is violating his feelings. He talks about himself, and thus hopes that Mae will recognize her friend and his fears, and not only see someone who does not understand her intense affection for social media (see ll.16 ff). In the course of the dialogue, Mercer describes using social media as something that has no truth in it, but is just gossip, hearsay, and conjecture (l.28). He appeals to her understanding of social competences, which in former times were much better developed in people than in the present day. Using social media in the way The Circle prefers it was once the privilege of the youth, but today’s world has become a distorted picture of its time, it has “dorkified itself” (cf. ll.37ff.): No one cares about the sense and nonsense of this exhibitionism, but instead constantly uses social media. Mercer’s attempts to make Mae realize that her online behavior should be changed include comparing social media to empty calories (ll.57ff.). Both have the same effect: the calories hidden in snack food do not satisfy your hunger, but make you addicted. You think you need all these social media to be up to date, but you only get addicted, as you may feel you could miss something if you were not online. Here, Mercer tries to touch Mae emotionally, but seemingly without success. Additionally, his very last argument about privacy, which does not exist between them any longer, does not help them come up with a satisfying solution to the problems of their different perception of social media. 

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