American Jerk by Todd Schwartz Essay

Published: 2021-06-29 01:52:47
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Category: Literature

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In his article, “American Jerk,” Todd Schwartz claims that Americans feign civility, but that society has limited civility to only speeches and books. Schwartz’s claim is a fitting description of American society, but as much as his sentiment towards courtesy is appreciated, our problems as a society go much further than civility. “We’re too far from our food and energy sources.  Schwartz explains in paragraph 12 and he is right. Americans are so self-absorbed that we don’t know where our food comes from.
We’d rather mindlessly eat, than know how our food is processed and what ingredients are used. In high school, my chemistry teacher started class by explaining what really was in peanut butter. As most Americans don’t know and companies want to keep that way, is that the FDA allows a small percentage of rat droppings in food. So while peanut butter has peanuts in it, it also has rat droppings. In another example of how (overly) apathetic we’ve become, Schwartz writes, “We’re all talking to someone all the time, but it’s even more rarely to the people we are actually with.
Social networking sites, such as Instagram or Twitter, have supposedly provided us with all the “followers  that we need who we deem as friends. These sites encourage cyberbullying, cheating, and pseudo offline relationships. Individuals can now sit behind a screen and spout off hurtful words they wouldn’t even dare say in public. It emboldens and strokes egos because individuals feel that everyone who clicks the follow button is their best friend. People are so comfortable with that sort of “companionship  that they don’t take the time to talk to the person they are actually with.
This person is usually a close friend). In older times, before Facebook existed, people would wish their friends a happy birthday in person. Nowadays, all people do is send over a virtual cake, text the words happy birthday, and feel that they have accomplished so much. I am guilty of this, too. We no longer give our full, undivided attention to our friends or our loved ones. We’d much rather play Candy Crush than listen to their sorrowful problems. If we continue like this, as Schwartz emphasizes, we will lose any empathy we have for other people who are going through tough times.
Once we lose all our moral values, we will no longer be able to think for ourselves. We will be like putty in the hands of society easily influenced by popular culture which breeds materialism, violence, promiscuity, ignorance, arrogance, and self-hatred. There are even less appealing aspects of our society. We have lost touch with reality as Schwartz so accurately points out. Americans live their lives vicariously through high definition flat screen televisions and high speed internet connections without ever leaving the comfort of their couch.
We no longer take adventures hiking or go camping in the Grand Canyon or sight-seeing at Niagara Falls to see what nature has created because documentaries have already been created illustrating the breathtaking scenery. We no longer take trips to the library to check out books because, after all, we have Nooks and Kindles on our smart phones or tablets for all our reading needs. As days and weeks and months and years pass we continue to rely more and more on technology rather than each other. Where I must disagree with Schwartz is his statement on political correctness.
We have never been more concerned about the feelings of minority groups, the disabled, and the disadvantaged,  Schwartz writes in paragraph 3, but he could not be more wrong. We have not become a culture obsessed with being “politically correct , but rather we have become a society obsessed with our image. Society “react with discomfort to an off-color joke about people of color  for fear of being seen as racist. Politicians only care about being politically correct in order for their image to stay untarnished for upcoming elections.
Political correctness holds such sway over society because it has become a taboo for individuals not to be. Even though Schwartz’s article bluntly highlights the major problems of society holding America back, he encourages us to take a step back to see what is wrong to try to fix it. However, at the end of it all, it is our freedom to decide which side we are on in the “Great Civility War . Schwartz isn’t “here to judge whether being civil and considerate is somehow better than being a mindless dill weed.  Just don’t get in his way. He’s on his cell in the Escalade, and he can’t be bothered.

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