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Do Not Be Marginalized

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Do Not Be Marginalized
During an interview in 2010 by Deborah Treisman in The New Yorker, George Saunders stated, "There was an understory there (or at least I hoped there was) about having to rise to the occasion of love, about having to, salmon-like, swim against the current of one's prevailing mindset." I believe that this was the bigger and greater idea Saunders was trying to get across in the story "Jon". Carolyn had just left the facility and it was Jon's move to either stay within the normal boundaries that were set throughout his life, or break free and create his own path. In most of the story Saunders mentions references to big brands and plays with advertising to show the extent people are willing to go to stay with the trend. Saunders story was originally published in The New Yorker magazine on January 27, 2003. The media kit informs us that the audience of this magazine is made up by rich, well educated, urbane people. Saunders ridicules advertising and chose this specific audience because they in fact are the ones who run these companies that push their products by whatever means necessary. Around the time this story was published the world was reaching new heights when it came to technology. Advancements were coming very quickly on a yearly basis and this was an important opportunity for companies to branch out. Now in 2015 everywhere we go we see advertisements and our society gets lost in what we should truly value by getting caught up in what's trending and having the newest version of everything that comes out. Saunders made it clear that in order for us to see what truly matters, we must separate ourselves from all the brainwashing and allow ourselves to think freely.
Moreover, Saunders uses satirical conventions in his story to convey the idea that advertising controls the consumers and influences them more than they know. Our generation is constantly in sight of advertisements through social media. We are slaves to popular brands because of the exclusivity or simply because without it you do not fit in. Saunders ridicules brand marketing by showing that people will buy things just for the brand. “Later that night in my privacy tarp I was wakened by someone crawling in, which, hitting my Abercrombie & Fitch nightlight, I saw it was Slippen” (Saunders 53). Abercrombie & Fitch is a clothing brand and Saunders exaggerates by stating that this company could make any product and the consumers would purchase it merely because it’s Abercrombie and nothing more. Saunders over exaggerates throughout the story and uses repetition to get his point across about marketing ploys and Daniel McDowell would agree:
“Marketers give expensive sneakers, colognes or even cars to young trendsetters on college campuses, at the fringes of show biz or at hot nightclubs with the understanding that they will use and talk up the products.”
Our generation is directly influenced by celebrities and fashion icons around the world. One celebrity can wear a specific brand one day and by the next day it will be trending all over the world. This has caused items to skyrocket in prices because the demand for the item increases drastically. Our heads are wrapped around the idea that if we own material items that are popular, we will be happier and feel better about ourselves. Saunders create a sarcastic tone to portray just how ridiculous he finds this idea to be. We live in a material world where we believe that money can buy us happiness. The irony of branding in our society is that you are often knowingly overpaying for a product. Saunders wants to put into perspective just how gullible we are when it comes to purchasing unnecessary items that are highly overpriced. Apple is one of the biggest corporations that knows exactly how to market its products. Apple could make anything and price it at whatever figure they would like and it would sell because they have built a reputation for themselves. Saunders uses allusions in his story to show how, like Jon, our society is slowly being brainwashed to think a certain way. Another problem presented in our society is what teenagers refer to as ‘hype’. This occurs when a particular item, usually a shoe release, jumps in price because of the limited quantity of it. Celebrities also influence what shoe jumps in price by simply wearing it. Everyone who follows fashion wants to have the newest most exclusive items and they are willing to shell out the big bucks if they have to. Saunders wants our generation to free themselves from any restraints and uses advertising to show us how we are being marginalized without even knowing it. Saunders has a hidden message that is often overlooked because of his main focus on mocking advertisement. The bigger picture has to do with more than just ads, it focuses on setting yourself free from all restraints life throws at us. Saunders has Carolyn express her thoughts on finally being set free:
No matter what she faxed, at least we will now have a life, that life dreamed of by so many, living in freedom with all joys and all fears, let it begin, I say, the balloon of our excitement will go up up up, to that land which is the land of true living, we will not be denied!
Carolyn had the right idea and wanted Jon to follow her out of the facility so that they could embark on their new journey together. Saunders uses the facility in “Jon” to depict how in our generation we are also trapped in a facility called social media. It is constantly around us and we can’t escape it unless we stand up and remove ourselves from it. Saunders uses stereotypes by having the characters sign out of the facility just like we would have to sign out of our social media apps. This particular stereotype usually gives us a sense of freedom and helps us realize what truly matters in life. By choosing to leave Jon realized where he really belonged, with his family. Saunders believes that we shouldn’t limit ourselves to following people’s footsteps, but should take charge of our life and not be scared to start a new path regardless of what society thinks. One paved road doesn’t mean there is only one way to that destination. His ideas should evoke people to change and think for themselves instead of blindly following what everyone else is into. You can’t expect to find out who you are if you are constantly trying to be someone else. In this life you have to take risks and follow your own path because that will lead you to happiness. Saunders was able to get his point across by pointing out an obvious problem, advertising, and deriding it to the point where we begin to finally understand the greater idea presented. A brand is only a name on a shirt or a logo on device and that shouldn’t represent who we are as people. We shouldn’t be judged by what we have, but by what we do in our lifetime.…...

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