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The story, like any other typical family, deals with a number of complicated problems that, in the real world, are acceptable and don't deviate from standard family norms. Although it would be impractical to cover every topic in this essay, the effect of technology on relationships will likely be the most intriguing and difficult one. The scene is a city where parents labor to provide for their families and meet the needs of growing children. This of course already includes the need for education and comfortable life for the whole family.
It is very important to tackle the "need" for not just survival but also for a quality living because this is the measure on whether or not the main protagonist of the story went far and beyond what is acceptable. Jack's identity, as prevalent in the first few chapters of the story, is not one that can be considered as natural. Perhaps the word "mask" is the nearest word to describe him. Why is this so? He has to build a good and worth trusting image because it boosts not only his ego and personality but his status, therefore giving him bigger capacity to support his family and be controlled by highly capitalist world. His personality and image which he tried to hold on to is not for the fact that he and his family had to survive but because he would be able to buy the material things the world presents to many. He had to keep up with the Joneses and yes, go to the groceries and find solace and comfort there, as seen in so many chapters in the book.
It is not difficult to see the high consumerism presented in the story and this was brought about by technological advancement where people are molded to see and answer more than the basic needs to survive. The birth of new products and creation of material things which, more than comfort, also brought dissatisfaction to the one craving for it. Human nature dictates that people will continue to crave for other things after he satisfies himself with the present. In our present story, Jack and his wife were so afraid of dying. If we will try to check the very root of this fear, we all could see that they are afraid to put an end to this materialistic life. No part of the book ever mentioned of any higher form of transcendence or spirituality which could have justified the fear. All we saw was the fear of dying because together with this would be the end of savoring the new trends of technology, the new gadgets or the new stuff in the grocery.
This shallow reason of existence brought forth shallow considerations for their existing relationships. The story mentioned so many times the question "who will die first?" This question was asked not for a noble marital reason. This was asked plainly because one of them was afraid that the other would be able to enjoy the material fruits of the other's labor. Another interesting part of the story was that time when Jack's wife slept with the doctor just so she could get the medicine. This advancement in technology through medicine was supposed to cure human ailments but ironically, it partly ruined Jack's relationship with his wife. The gun, which is a product of science and technology, also played an important role in the story. It was a symbol of something destructive. It was supposed to be used for defense and to save a life but it was used to kill someone.
We see in this story how the fruits of technology affected how the protagonist and his family perceived the society. It dictated how they should move and how they should react both on people and to different life's circumstances. It is also ironic how the white noise should not affect the real personality of the characters here but the opposite happened. Consumerism and the capitalist world are just a few of the effects of technology and unfortunately, it had a devastating effect on the characters.
In the book entitled "How to be Happy in an Unhappy World," the writer Marie Chapian mentions the simplification of life. It tells us that the ultimate controller and the maker of a happy life is us. The book mentions that we are the driver and we can always choose to be happy if we want to regardless of the absence of material things. Another book that can be related to the spirit of this novel is the one entitled "Unclutter Your Life in One Week." This book tells us of the need to simplify life by removing the unnecessary things in life. Most of these unnecessary are material. In one part of the novel, Jack tried to do a lot of cleaning and clearing up of his stuff. This was perhaps the part where his persona also realized that it is technology and the material world that are burdening him, that are causing his fear of death.
Relating the novel to reality, it is not hard to see how technology has affected relationships. There is this cliché saying "power is where the money is," and therefore, even the manner on how we relate to people is also affected. An example of this is when a son marries and still tries to live in his parents' house which normally causes trifles within or amongst the family members. The dependence on the material thing whether for the basic need or for support can all be rooted out to technology. Technology definitely has a voice in everyday life. The most recent and one of the most disturbing happening right now is the proliferation of new gadgets due to the need to be connected to social media. Time spent with the family has been lessened because most parents are also hooked to the virtual world of social media. The need to be connected and be "part of the system" is already viewed as a new level of necessity which slowly degrades the quality of bonding of a family. Whenever we enter restaurants, it is not hard to see children or teenagers holding their own mobile or smart phones while listening or watching something. This age has succumbed to the happiness brought by technology and slowly, such communication face to face is becoming extinct.
In the novel, just after the climax and the issue has been resolved, there was a glimpse of the supermarket once more. The protagonist after all that happened, still focused on technology, the wonders of it through its typical outlet, the groceries. This is the biggest frustration of the novel. After all what happened and what they have been through, there is still a possibility for Jack to go back to being a prisoner of his fear of death, again, for his fear of losing the material.
Chapian, Marie. How to be Happy in an Unhappy World. Revell. 2015.
Delillo, Don. White Noise.Viking Press. 1985.
Doland, Erin Rooney. Unclutter Your Life in One Week. Simon Spotlight Entertsinment. 2009.
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