Hello! Super Sad True Love Story is Gary Shteyngart's best-selling novel set in a futuristic, dystopian America. Although the main story is about the dysfunctional love between Lenny, a Russian-Jewish American man in his thirties and Eunice, a Korean-American woman in her twenties, the novel is an indictment of our technology-obsessed culture.
With social media being so popular among millennials, Shteyngart does not shy away from caricaturing the dangers of technology worship. In Super Sad True Love Story, we are introduced to two main social media tools which imprison the people in a sort of quantitative stupor: the credit pole, which allows the government to know each person's credit rating, and the apparat, a device one wears around one's neck that rates one's level of attractiveness, net worth, level of education, and personal background against that of others in the vicinity. With Rate Me Plus technology, each person can immediately know how they measure against someone else who is competing for the same job, spouse, financial opportunity, etc. So, Shteyngar's America mirrors ours today; his novel is a stark warning to all of us that our continued obsession with the powers of social media as a tool to determine our worth as individuals will ultimately destroy all of the qualitative measures so necessary to meaningful life. We will forget the old-fashioned values of kindness, compassion, mercy, graciousness, honesty and courage.
Aside from these intrinsically necessary ingredients to social stability, we will also forget how to reason and extrapolate for ourselves; everything is spoon-fed to us from screens and individualized programs which claim to "know" what we like and what we should be interested in. We are fed a daily, steady diet of regurgitated, sanitized opinions from so-called experts. Curiosity and the desire to discover knowledge for ourselves beyond this technological wizardry has become a thing of the past. It's a warning to millenials (and the rest of us as well) that the people in Super Sad True Love Story can't even be bothered to burn the books like the firemen of Fanrenheit 451 do; indeed, books are ignored and have become taboo. People turn on electronic devices, get on the Internet, and a cacophony of competing voices and sounds batter their senses with information.
Shteyngart warns us that millenials like Eunice Park are so obsessed with broadcasting all their personal lives on social media that they have forgotten the old-fashioned values of discretion, dignity and purpose. Indeed, Eunice's Global Teen account messages show that one of the main goals in her life is to purchase more Total Surrender Panties. The people in this dystopian novel are so entranced with their sophisticated, technological super-world that they have ceased to keep up with the world beyond their devices, namely that the country is crippled under a load of debt, beholden to the Chinese, at war with Venezuela and their combat veterans are without recourse in regard to their military pay and bonuses.
Thanks for your question! I include pertinent links for further reading where the author speaks candidly about his novel.