The essay under analysis is called “Society is Dead: We Have Retreated into the world” written by Andrew Sullivan. The main purpose of this essay is to raise social awareness about the modern phenomenon of intentional isolation self-inflicted by the majority of our contemporaries these days. The author points out that the heavy use of personal devices such as smartphones or MP3 players deprives us of some pleasures essential for social creatures.
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Sullivan starts his essay with an observation of the modern New York City and social life there. The author makes a claim that seems paradoxical; he states that the famous crazy night life there is quieter, and in the daylight it becomes clear why. Sullivan describes a typical scene one may witness in basically any big and developed city of our planet. The author notices that the looks of the pedestrians are vacant and that no one is focused on anything external.
People are preoccupied being too self-absorbed while life is boiling around them. The main purpose of the essay is to point out how much a person is a mission out on while aimlessly listening to music and adding a personal soundtrack to their life.
The author bitterly notes that one of the main features and pleasures of music used to be the fact that it was a shared experience, while today everyone is listening to their music making up their play lists. Focusing on music distributed to our ears through white wires of our iPods, we intentionally make ourselves deaf towards everything around us. The author finds this rather sad.
Sullivan raises a very popular point for contemporary society – the issue of isolation. Technological progress made the world quicker and easier to access, communication and staying connected are the main focuses of the modern people, yet, the rates of experienced loneliness and social isolation these days are higher than decades ago. Describing the world around us perceived by a mind cleared from music the author is not trying to oversell it.
Sullivan depicts rather day-to-day scenes such as the chattering of a child or a funny dialogue overheard in a crowded place. The author employs simple, yet descriptive language to artistically demonstrate that the sounds of our own thoughts and the noises of the city can be more melodic than the music in our headphones. The author employs epithets and metaphors to create a stronger connection with the reader.
The points made my Sullivan are very clear and are delivered successfully. His language is clever, yet accessible and sometimes colloquial for easier understanding of any reader. The problem discussed in the essay is popular and contemporary. The author offers a fresh perspective on our everyday routine and habits. He concludes describing his own experience of leaving his iPod at home and experiencing panic due to that but then realizing that the sounds of life around us can be enjoyable and interesting.
To sum up the author’s idea, we hardly ever ask ourselves why we keep doing these or those things time after time. Being constantly attached to our devices is a habit not many can rationalize. It is a behavior we stick to, yet it is easy to overcome. Once this habit is interrupted, we start to notice many new things and experience fresh emotions. Sullivan’s essay serves as an effective attention raiser for the readers who are encouraged to try leaving their headphones in the pockets and enjoy life the way it is.