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In Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story novel we are introduced to a dystopian society that is eerily similar to our present United States of America. The story revolves around the complicated, paradoxical relationship of Lenny Abramov and Eunice Park. Lenny is an old soul lost in a fast moving society, yet Eunice is the typical insecure young person lost in her conscience. The novel has a melancholic feel to it because the country is in total disarray. The aspects displayed in the story are similar to our society, and they do not represent progress. Nevertheless, this story should be a warning sign of things to come if we continue on the path we are on. What are the forces that have lead to the dystopian society, and how can present day America avoid it?
Lack of privacy is a common theme throughout the novel. However, it is also one of the vital components of the demise of the country. In our society, we have social media accounts that we can message and publicize pictures of ourselves. Nevertheless, we do some control who sees it, but we have the choice not to use them at all. In the future, dystopian society people carry around apparatus that display every single thing about themselves. Whether it is rating how you compare regarding look or how good you stand financially, everyone knows because there is no privacy. “The girl across the bar laughed…a bunch figures appeared on my screen: “fuckability 780/800, Personality 800/800, Anal/Oral/Vaginal preference 1/3/2”(89 Shteyngart).
The apparatus does the thinking for the people it is the vessel for which a person goes about being and “communicating.” Throughout the story Lenny many times depicts Eunice Park looking at her apparat when things get awkward and uncomfortable. In fact, there is a parallel in today’s world with our attachment to our phones. Usually, it is relatively rare to attend a social event without someone on their phone. The phone and Apparat are islands that one escapes avoiding the uncomfortableness of being with Unkown people. Both of these devices are used to communicate or be “social, ” yet they do quite the opposite. It is not sociable to be interacting with others on the media as Noah does while he is hanging out with his best friends with Vishnu and Lenny.Lenny describes Noah’s Anti-social behavior,“With that stupid, inevitable smile, those blazing teeth, That spinning, lying mouth, those gleaming…he turned the apparat my way to record my lumbering arrival…I waved to Noah, and then hesitantly to his apparat” (Shteyngart 83). Lenny is an old soul in a fast moving progressive society. He realizes the evils of the apparat and the reader gets the sense he does not enjoy living in this shallow society. Today people are starting to realize the harm the smartphone has done to their way of being. Everything has been fast and easy to get, yet when something is not swift and easy to get we become exacerbated quickly. We have become dangerously attached to our devices to the point where one can’t function on a daily basis without.Nevertheless, the realization is the first step to fixing the problem of our shallow society.
FAC and Rate me plus are other extreme examples of the lack of Privacy in Gary Shteyngart’s future society. FAC and Rate me plus are the way for people to find out how people feel about the other sexually without their consent, as stated when Vishnu describes FAC to Lenny “you look at a girl. The Emotepad picks up any change in your blood pressure. That tells her how much you want to do her”(Shteyngart 88). What someone thinks of you as a person is none of your business unless they tell you directly. In both the present and Shteyngart future, people have become so insecure to the point where they created applications like Tinder and FAC. The development of these applications leads to people try to become what other want them to be. Furthermore, this is not sustainable, and at some point, one will self-destruct as shown at the end of the novel.
Here, corruption proceeding from the Bipartisan party and the A.R.A. have led to the future America’s collapse. The government’s responsibility is to protect and serve its people. However, in both societies, that concept is merely an antiquity. In today’s world, the government has its hand in national healthcare, gun policies, loans and more. The government’s hands that affect the daily lives of its citizens will eventually fall through because of the lack of integrity in politics.The Bipartisan party led by the secretary of state, Rubenstein who acts as the puppet for the American people. When the Chinese aristocrats come to the states, he has to make sure the image of America does not look like it could collapse in the next week. The government practices act called “Harm reduction,” for example, when LNWI’s are removed from Central Park, because the Chinese would see them on their way back from the airport,”They don’t want the Chinese banker to seeing no poor people on the way from the airport. Make us look bad” (Shteyngart 106).
When the people realize the failures of the government, they began to fight the system. For example, people were promised new pensions after they served in Venezuela, yet that was not the case upon their arrival. Nevertheless, throughout history when things go wrong people and state go through 4 major phases, and they are on full display in the future society. First, they do simple marching protests throughout the streets, as did the national guards through the mall in Washington D.C. Next, people rally around major public areas to display their anger, as did the national guards along with the Low Net Worth Individuals. Third, the police get involved by enforcing massive arrests along with brutal force, as shown when Aziz the Bus Driver was protesting in Central Park.In fact, Eunice and Lenny had run into him before, “…the unemployed bus driver Eunice and I had seen on Cedar Hill…had a dot sized punctured the upper half of his elongated brown forehead…the eyes had turned up their sockets”(Shteyngart 156). Finally, the Military flexes its muscles to show who’s in charge.
Nevertheless, it is widely displayed when the J.F.K. ferry was blown up by helicopter while Noah was on Board” ”A single Raven appeared above Noah and Amy’s boat. It lowered its golden beak, and its golden beak turned orange…the John F Kennedy reared up,split into two…”(Shteyngart 248). In conclusion, from this point on the government and the society is in total disarray with nowhere to turn. Furthermore, our government can not continue its self-destruction. Otherwise, it will end up like Shteyngart’s depiction of America. The social structure presented in the novel is only made up of two classes called the High Net Worth Individuals and the Low Net Worth Individuals. There is no real resemblance of a middle class. America is not producing anything anymore the economy is made up on Retail,Media, and Credit, whereas nowadays we produce oil, cars, food, etcetera. Also socially, looking young or having money is the only way to be someone, so America is at its lowest point Economically and at its highest in Shallowness.
Within the novel, High Net Worth Individuals are shallow stuck up people who have realized they are nothing compared to other Countries like China. They try to act and hold traditional principles that actual rich people did 30 years back. In fact, they could care less of anyone who is not of their stature,” ‘This black dude is getting his ass kicked by the Guard and all the LNWI’s are getting seriously whaled on’ “ (Shteyngart 156). As a person in this society, you are virtually worthless if you have no wealth or youth. Lack of Education in the youth is another force that has lead to the novel’s dystopian society. Furthermore, they have no sentence structure; they substitute words for abbreviations more often than not, and the degrees offered can not be applied to garner a job.
In particular, the character Eunice Park is the epitome of the complete delusion young people have endured in their life. She is completely lost in life because her degrees in Assertiveness and Imagery can not get her anywhere. Now, days we also see a parallel with people who get degrees in Women’s Studies or Dance theory. These people can not and will not get a job that will pay well because no Law Firm, Engineering Firm, Business owner find use in a closed minded secular person. Her lack of a real education is displayed in her lack of sentence structure as well. In fact, when Lenny meets Eunice’s parents he brags about how she can sometimes speak in coherent sentences,”It may surprise you to know that Eunice is a great speaker of sentences”(Shteyngart 192). The reader is often introduced to the actual lack of respect to language when Eunice messages her friends online. For example, when she begins a conversation with Grill Bitch,”Sup,my little Busy Bee-coach?” (Shteyngart 112), no person young or old would ever get a real job with that diction.
In Gary Shteyngart’s novel, the society that is depicted has much in common with our present society; what many would consider progress in this story is in fact a form of regression. In both societies, people have become more delusional to their infringing Government. Furthermore, with corruption in the government, lack of privacy, lack of a real education, along with no resemblance of a middle-class leading, Shteyngart society has resulted from a dystopia. Although our current society is much like the future dystopia, the parallels to the are only parallels, we as Americans must first realize our most glaring mistakes and must unite to fix them.
Shteyngart, Gary. Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel. New York: Random House, 2010 print.
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