A Society in Pieces

A High School Society Compared to Gatsby's Society

By: Alissa Lederer

Crashing, Burning, Falling

Fed up. He just got fed up with all the gossip. Fed up with being picked on just because he had a lower social status. Fed up with the narcissistic, selfish people that plagued his world. And that’s why he did what he did. That’s why he went home that Wednesday afternoon and stole his father’s gun. That’s why four shots rang out that day. 3 for the fellow students he killed, and one for himself. He ruined more than 4 lives that day. After all the trauma of that mournful day, the other students just could not go back to their normal lives. Screams and tears flooded the hallways. The counselor’s office was packed. Still, nobody could believe that it really happened.


This is a high school at its worst. It has crashed and burned and fallen to the ground. And it probably won’t be able to build itself up again for a very, very long time. If it weren't for the constant gossip, narcissism, and fakeness that roam the halls of every high school, this horrific event would never have happened. The society in The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, failed for these same reasons. High schools like the one I mentioned are failing in the same way. If we don’t make an effort to change the way we socialize, we may fail the as well.

Narcissism. Shallowness.

Part of the reason why Gatsby’s society failed was because just about everyone in the book was extremely narcissistic and shallow. Daisy, for example, only married Tom Buchanan because he has a lot of money, and he has had a lot of money his whole life. She’s basically a huge, shameless gold-digger. But it’s not just Daisy who does this. Why do you think women like dating doctors? Or “older men”? The answer is simple, Money. People like money. People like the feeling of security that money brings. It’s understandable. Natural. We have adopted this feeling, this way of life as a whole. So for those of you who look at Daisy and frown at her selfishness, really think- how are we any better? We’re not.


Fakeness

Another reason why Gatsby’s society failed was because people pretended. The characters all acted like they really liked each other, or enjoyed each others’ company, but they didn’t. It was all just a show. “I’d b damned if I’d go in; I’d had enough of all of them for one day”” said Nick about the East Eggers. They wanted to look like they were liked by many, like they had a lot of friends. And to be quite honest, I think that our society is even worse than theirs when it comes to this. Because we do this on a daily basis. It has become normal for us to say “Hey, how are you?” to someone in passing. And if that person doesn’t reply with a “Good, you?” it would be weird, right? We don’t expect this person to actually say “Well actually, I’m not doing so well today”. And when they do say something along these lines, we roll our eyes as they go on to tell us about their awful day. And not only that, but as a society, we learn at a very young age that if we want someone to do something for us, we need to “butter them up”. We say things like “Wow mom, that sweater looks great on you!” or “Gee boss, have you been working out?” We’re being fake about these things to hopefully better ourselves- just like the characters in Gatsby.


Gossip

Gossip played a huge role in the failure of Gatsby’s society. The Characters from the book are some of the biggest gossips I’ve ever heard. Wait, scratch that. The characters from the book are almost the biggest gossips I’ve ever heard. I am a high school girl, after all. And we gossip A LOT. If we’re not talking about boys or school, we’re probably gossiping. A study by Dr. Nicholas Emler shows that gossip makes up 80 percent of our conversations. 80 percent! That’s outrageous! But think about it. How many times have you heard things like “her party was AWESOME!”, “Can you believe Sarah is dating Michael?”, “Did you hear? His parents are getting a divorce!”, or “She’s a total [explicit]!” If your school is anything like mine, and I’m sure it is, the answer is ALL THE TIME. We gossip because it’s easy. If there’s ever a lull in conversation, just throw some gossip in there, that’ll get things going again! It shouldn’t be so easy, though. It shouldn’t be a fun thing to talk about people- say nasty things about people- behind their backs. We are absolutely just like those in Gatsby’s society when it comes to gossip.

Time to Stop

In the beginning, I mentioned a high school that had fallen in the most horrific way. Fallen just because of some selfishness, fakeness, and gossip. Gatsby’s society has fallen in this same way. And as high schoolers, our society is on the path to failing this way as well. That is why we need to stop this. We need to stop this narcissistic, pretending, overly gossipy being we have become. And if we don’t, if we continue being what we are, we will reap the consequences.