Although I have no idea of the particular hypothesis behind the The Circle’s social experiment, I see it as a study in influence (an expression of trust) and its link to reality. As The Circle’s virtual relationships unfold, they highlight the correlation between influence and perceived ‘realness’, the subjective and fluid nature of what we consider ‘real,’ and how dependent that interpretation is on context and history.
With diverse approaches to defining the ‘realness’ in themselves and other Circle players, Bill, Alex (aka catfish Adam), Seaburn (aka catfish Rebecca), Sean, Ed and Tammy (Ed’s mom) illustrate that “real” is not only subject to individual interpretation, a person’s interpretation is often molded by social and psychological forces.
Emotional connection, arguably the most ‘real’ slice of life, has always been vulnerable to manipulation. However, modern technology has added a whole new dimension to that vulnerability by creating a culture of effortless connectivity with access to tools that make virtual mask-making into an art. In turn, this double-edged escalation of connection pathways brings into focus the question of whether it is possible to separate the ‘realness’ of what we know about someone from the ‘realness’ of what we feel about them. Personality provides a framework for understanding the range of individual responses to that dilemma.
As a Physical Explorer, Bill’s experience of reality is very literal and immediate. He is most comfortable presenting himself and his feelings candidly, and expects others to do the same. When he was Blocked as the lowest rated player after what felt like genuine, relationship-building conversations, his sense of betrayal became synonymous with the conclusion that all the other players were lying fakes. Fueling the concrete simplicity of his read on the other players is a Physical Explorer tendency to overlook factors that are not directly relevant to him at the time (such as players’ connections to other players and the challenges of navigating complex human decisions.)
The allure of The Circle is rooted in the tension between trust and betrayal, truth and lies, known and unknown, hidden and revealed, connection and manipulation, strategy and heart, what we know and what we feel, reality and falsehood.
The next post will continue an exploration of ‘realness’ through the eyes of Circle players Alex (aka catfish Adam,) and Seaburn (aka catfish Rebecca).
For easy reference, each character story in this series includes an UnConflict Personalities listing which mentions the Core Personalities of The Circle Players discussed to date.
- Social Explorer (Core Personality of: Miranda)
- Social Changemaker
- Social Connector (Core Personality of: Joey)
- Ideas Explorer
- Ideas Changemaker (Core Personality of: Shubham)
- Ideas Connector (Core Personality of: Sammie)
- Physical Explorer (Core Personality of: Alana, Antonio, Bill)
- Physical Changemaker (Core Personality of: Karyn)
- Physical Connector (Core Personality of: Chris)
(Note that the UnConflict Personality system operates in a closed loop configuration where the Physical Connector loops back around to the Social Explorer)