Life on the Island

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Presently, it is evident that a large number of youths living in theurban center are committing suicide. The worrying trend has inspiredthe writer of , Emily Esfahani, to conductfurther analysis on the possible contributing factors. The piece ofwriting asserts that humankind is losing the social attributes infavor of idiosyncratic lifestyle. Furthermore, people are too busy toform real one-on-one connection. Instead, they prefer to remainlinked through technology such as the social media. The high suiciderates in the contemporary world originates from high stress levelsthat humans experience due to increased break of social bonds, whichinstigated by the adoption of individualistic characteristics.

Question 1

Individualism is the central claim of the article, `Life on theIsland` by Emily Esfahani. The writer argues that over the years,man has evolved from his social nature to becoming individualistic. The editorial provides that in the 1800’s a majority 95% ofAmericans lived in rural areas that consisted of fewer than 2,500people. However, at the beginning of 1940’s, people migrated fromthe countryside to urban centers. By mid-1920, there was a higherpopulation in urban areas than in the rural locales. The urbanizationof individuals led to the urbanization of literature and more booksmentioned less and less about ‘duty’ and ‘obliged.`Instead, the books increased their emphasis on individualism byadopting the use of words like ‘choose’ and `decision`(Esfahani 2).

The individualistic approach has brought with it various problemssuch as the high rate of suicide. The article observes that man is asocial creature, and therefore, individualism leads to depression andcontributes to the rising suicide frequencies. It also notes thesurvey conducted on deaths by the CDC and stipulates that suicideamong the middle-aged Americans aged between 35 and 64 has increasedby 30 percent between 1999 and 2010. The isolation has also affectedthe suicide rates among the youth for the past fifty years.

Question 2.

The key rhetorical structure of the essay follows a clear logic. Itstarts with the traditional era, whereby, communities lived together.During such times, people were communal and lived as per the socialnature of humankind. The usual mode of living is associated withlower depression rates and suicide. However, as time passed on, thecommunitarian ideals of tradition and duty withered away. People haveincreasingly become material minded. The progression to individualismseems to value the calls for freedom and prosperity above else.Besides, the advocates for individualism assert that it is the way togain power. However, the consequences of narcissism seem to beardifferent rewards. Instead of supremacy, man has become morepowerless. Besides, the search for one type of freedom within thenarcissist environment only leads to the loss of other freedoms(Esfahani 2).

For example, individuals in search of financial freedom findthemselves sacrificing other freedoms. Above all else, it is rhetorichow man has become increasingly digitally connected, yet sociallyisolated. The global social survey indicated that in 1985 people hadmore than two confidants in their lives. In contrast, the same studyrevealed that by the year 2004, most people did not have anyconfidant. Therefore, despite the potential for social connectionsprovided by technology, the ideal human relations have dissolved away(Esfahani 4). The key reason for the continued social dissolution,despite the increased interconnection, is the fact that communityfades along with social connection values of restraint and duty.

Question 3.

The first evidence provided by the article to indicate the fadingeffect of social connectedness and the increasing result ofnarcissism is the use of Google Books Ngram viewer. The writerobserves that the tool is a comprehensive database of more than fivemillion volumes of digitized books written between 1500 and 2008(Esfahani 4). The device is used to depict how the values of culturehave eroded with time by identifying the most shared values of acommunity during a particular period. The tool manages to do this bydetermining how the frequency of using various words has changed withtime. Urbanization has increased the community’s emphasis on dutyand obliged being words addressed towards self-concern, materialismand acquisition. In contrast, the use of words with shared valuessuch as ‘benevolence,` and ‘give’ has declined(Esfahani 3). The illustration provides enough evidence that thesociety has increasingly become self-absorbed in the last two hundredyears.

The second illustration is the use of Katy Perry’s song, “Roar.”The song is amongst the top 100 in the billboards indicating theinfluence on the community. However, the song solely emphasizes onself-expression. It identifies how the singer refers to herself inthe first three verses by saying, “I stood for nothing and fellfor everything” (Esfahani 3). The song serves as a perfectillustration of the strong sense of selfhood and narcissism.

Question 4.

The argument is a comprehensive discussion that derives facts fromresearch and evidence from current trends in the contemporary world.Besides, the ability to provide the chronological flow of eventssince the past makes it more efficient. The writer juggles in betweenher personal observations and the results of other accredited sourcesto provide a clear view of how individualism has changed the society.For example, in the beginning, Esfahani observes that in the westernworld, individualism is thought to be the foundation of the goodlife. However, he continues to find that the research by Durkheimreveals a more complicated image. It is at this point, where theauthor introduces the fact that people kill themselves more wheneverthey are alienated from their communities (Esfahani 1). Afterward,the writer supports her line of thought in diverse ways making it aninteresting argument.

Question 5.

The claims about life on the Island are convincing enough to explainthe relationship between individualism and the increase in suiciderates. The claims identify the fact that human beings are socialcreatures meant to have a connection with their surroundings.Therefore, once the connection is disrupted, humans have the tendencyto be depressed, which increases the chances of depression.


Emily Esfahani concludes that the increasing rate of people killingthemselves is resulting from the lack of social relationship thatexisted numerous years back. The author uses personal observation anddigitized evidence such as the Google Books database to reach theconclusion. She discovers that the use of common words that depictshuman connection has reduced drastically. The authors have over thetime been emphasizing on the adoption of individualistic lifestyle.The editorial further points out that technology such as the internethave further encouraged the loss of human interconnectedness. Thenotes that urbanization highly stress on the significance ofacquisition, materialism and self-concern, which when cannot attain,he or she is deemed a failure. In such a case, the youth resolves incommitting suicide to escape the perpetual misery of disappointment.

Works Cited

Esfahani, Emily. “.” The New Criterion.October 2013. Print.