Everyone watching Netflix’s The Circle had different opinions on who they wanted to walk away with first place, but one thing we can all agree on is that The Circle's Shubham, aka Shooby, was a fan favorite from the beginning. His constant positive energy and friendships with Joey and Rebecca were enough to make viewers and the other players connect with the 23-year-old virtual reality manager. He somehow managed to become even more likable in the final four episodes released on January 15 when he admitted to the rest of the players that he actually ran for Governor of California. The comment was a humble brag, not a joke. Shubham really is a former governor candidate turned reality television star. Here's what happened.
In 2018, then-22-year-old Shubham Goel was the youngest person on the ballot in California’s gubernatorial election, which was ultimately won by current California Governor Gavin Newsom. Goel was certainly ambitious as he had only graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles one year prior. He ran as an independent which helped him cultivate an image a regular person, opposite of a career politician who was tied to party leaders or funds. But the best part of Goel’s platform (which is outlined on his website, which is still live) was his plan for social media use. Ironically, one of The Circle contestant’s biggest campaign platforms involved his dislike for social media.
In his intro package for The Circle, Goel referred to social media as “our modern-day bubonic plague” and “the devil.” So, it’s hilarious, but not surprising, that his official campaign website lists his ideas for reforming “social medusa (media).” As one of his ideas to improve California, Goel proposed and outright ban on social media usage for children in K-12 and instead wanted outdoor activities to be encouraged more in schools and the workplace. He also suggested monitoring the effects of these changes using “quarterly happiness surveys.” One of the replacement outdoor activities he suggested was a treasure hunt. His website reads:
“We will offer different monthly treasure hunts in local districts for groups of 2 or more where we will give digital clues to them on finding the location of the ‘treasure’. The team that wins each treasure hunt will each get 20% tax credits for the rest of the year so these treasure hunts will be great at getting people to go outside and work together as a group.”
Yes, a man who wanted to restrict social media for children just over a year ago is on a television show that is all about becoming the most popular person on online.
Some of his other concerns were implementing tax cuts for farmers to help with the water crisis, working on the California housing crisis, and using his virtual reality background to employ more artificial intelligence technology. He planned to use AI to make a public database of health records for healthcare companies that could also predict potential risks for illnesses.
As far as more pressing issues along party lines like gun control, Goel stances were less clear. He told India Today that he considered himself to be an Independent because he didn’t rely on campaign funding. “Both Democrats and Republicans are so dependent on large campaign money which makes the entire political system corrupt, this is why I decided to run as an independent,” he said. During the interview, he also spoke about his stance on President Donald Trump and his administration’s immigration policies, saying, “My view on immigration is that the US immigration office is very inefficient, it hasn't been digitised yet, as far as the policies of federal government are concerned, I don't see much of a problem there.”
In the primary, which was held on June 5, 2018, Goel received 4,020 votes, placing him 26th out of 27 candidates and disqualifying him for the general election. So, he was definitely telling his Circle mates the truth about the outcome.
To be honest, being a player on The Circle seems like a much better fit for Shooby than serving as governor. Besides, if he had been elected, The Circle fans would’ve been deprived of seeing his impressive dance moves.