Circle Netflix

Shubham Goel, a 23-year-old Indian American virtual reality designer from California, is one of the participants on the Netflix reality show, “The Circle.” (YouTube screenshot)

“Don’t believe everything you see online.” That’s the premise of “The Circle,” a new reality competition series on Netflix where players can pretend to be anyone they want.

According to 23-year-old Indian American Shubham Goel, who is one of the eight contestants on the show, it’s a “social experiment that reflects the digital world we live in.”

In the show, you never know who you’re playing against as contestants bond, flirt, and plot, all in an effort to earn clout exclusively through a unique social media platform known as “The Circle.” Even though they are housed in the same building they can’t see or hear each other. Participants communicate with all the others through the voice-activated platform, send direct messages and play games.

Over the course of 12 episodes, everyone is competing to gain influence and avoid getting voted out. But who’s for real and who’s a catfish? With $100,000 on the line, what would the contestants do – and who would they be – to win?

The U.S. version of the show, which is already a hit in the U.K., began streaming Jan. 1.

Goel is playing himself on the show, the first four episodes of which were dropped on the first day of 2020.

If India-West readers remember, in 2018, Goel hit the headlines by becoming the youngest candidate running for governor of California.

Goel, who graduated from UCLA with a degree in economics and a minor in film and TV, told India-West at the time, that the reason he was running was to show the community that you can run for office with a willingness to stand up for what you believe in.

He wanted to use the platform to voice his concerns on various issues, including a struggling economy and housing crisis. Other issues the youngest gubernatorial candidate told India-West he intended to address included the water problem, government transparency, tax cuts to help residents and small businesses thrive and banning social media for kids in K-12.

“Social media companies have used the variable rewards effect to hook us to use their platforms. As a result, everywhere you go, people are on social media sites for hours and hours. This has made people generally unhappy, and our mental health has suffered,” he told India-West. (Read the full interview here: https://bit.ly/36jYq2N)

In the same vein, Goel, a virtual reality designer, now tweeted that “The Circle” is an “emotional and powerful game that I think will open a lot of conversations that need to be opened in our social media world. Grateful for it all.”

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