I’ve been cooped up, and it’s actually nice today. I think I’m contractually obliged to leave the house.
I’ve been watching so much of The Circle. I’m much more into the show than I expected. As a friend so adroitly put it, The Circle has its contestants doing all the stuff we love doing: Trolling, shit talking, catfishing and flirting. People can subvert social expectations and manipulate them. It’s all so insidious and conspiratorial. It’s also incredibly engrossing, because it’s accessible. We’ve all been hooked up to social media for long enough now that we’re used to how it plays out. We understand the medium, conventions, and how to use it. I can’t imagine anyone has watched this show without questioning how they’d act on the show. Would you catfish? Flirt shamelessly? Play as a heightened version of yourself? Would you just be yourself? The show has folks playing as themselves, but with attractive pictures of someone else. Is that a winning strategy?
Naturally I’ve been playing this game with myself. Who would I be? I turned the show off last night, then spent hours in bed with my eyes closed and my gears turning. What aspects of myself would I try to play up? I feel like saying I’m a New Zealander would earn instant goodwill, but I’ve rarely if ever tried to capitalise on that in real life. I don’t mention it in dating profiles, because I’d rather have it as value added than an expected part of my personality. If people were messaging me just because I’m a Kiwi, then maybe they wouldn’t be giving me a fair appraisal. My personality is much more important than my heritage. But if I was playing a game with money on the line, would I be able to resist making myself a little more endearing? Feels cheap, but maybe?
Moreover, what parts of my personality would I lean into? I don’t like the idea of being insincere or dishonest. I wouldn’t dull my weird edges. I don’t know if I’d play it super safe either. I feel like I’d get more of a kick out of being authentic, doing my weird puns and jokes. I’d try to smooth out conflict if I could, and be friendly. You know how people in reality tv aren’t “here to make friends”? That would 1000% be my goal. Many contestants put “single” as a way to open up other strategies. I’d probably mention that I had a girlfriend, that we were open and poly, but I wasn’t really interested in flirting. It’s not that I dislike dating and its general ephemera, but I don’t think that would be leaning into my strengths. I’m not unattractive, but to lean on looks rather than personality would be a massive misstep.
Which begs the question of what kind of profile pictures I’d put up. It’s a big part of the series. As it goes on, contestants can add more pictures to showcase different parts of themselves. Invariably, people tend to go for a nice shot for the first one, something racier for their second, and an endearing photo for their third. I’ve got a couple of pleasant profile photos, I’d bank on fun costume-y shots for other ones. My goal would be to highlight my eccentricities without being alienating to “normies”. I think.
I do wonder how much goes on behind the scenes. I’m curious which private conversations we don’t see. I have no doubts that the selection of scenes we’re shown has been deliberately depicted to carry a narrative, and showcase certain characters. I’d just love to know who I would be within that narrative.
So while I do want to leave the house, I also kinda want to finish this series…