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The Privilege Of Isolation Essay

614 words - 3 pages

We reside in a realm where knowledge is fleeting, where greater access to the portals to any quadrant of our planet correlates with the lack of depth of the information that we scavenge, where people exist as groups whose members are deprived of their own substance. Jonathan Franzen, in his essay “The Reader in Exile”, delivers compelling arguments about the shift of the world towards a digital, unreal web of connections that does not provide room for individuals to fully grasp the importance of words and of themselves. He states, “Instead of a soul, membership in a crowd. Instead of wisdom, data” (173). In the existence of gigabytes, we are not required to think critically and self-reflect; we accumulate large quantities of information without the need for quality. Our belonging to social networking sites inhibits us from looking into ourselves by forcing us to blend in.
It may just be Franzen’s inclination as the critically acclaimed “Great American Novelist” to defend the novel, the grantor of the privilege of isolation, from the intrusion of technology. However, Franzen’s opinions are not the only statements that reign in the entirety of his essay. He manages to convince the reader that his insights are plausible by bestowing evidence in the form of other authors’ works, including Barry Sanders’ “A is for Ox” which describes the passiveness of humans as viewers of the television and its negative impact on orality and, subsequently, self-consciousness (166). Franzen also references Nicholas Negroponte’s invitation to a new, exclusive virtual reality (167) to illustrate the widening gap between literature and the people who are caught up with – smitten by, I dare say – the advent of technology. By using various sources and incorporating them ‘naturally’ into his own text and conversations, Franzen sets a controversial backdrop. With his juxtaposition...

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