Telling The Real Stories

“The Great Gatsby”: The reality of an illusion

in Lifestyle Columns/Reviews by

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…and one fine morning – so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly in the past”.

Nostalgia has a way of ripping us from the present and throwing us down a rabbit hole of memories – things both loved and lost. In The Great Gatsby, we see Jay Gatsby lost in the comforting hushes of the past as he chases his lost love. This fixation on the past that he harvests teaches us a lot about how we survive in the present.

Scott Fitzgerald’s novel casts a harsh light on jealousy and passion while building a love story on the foundations of desperation. Although in the age of Daisy and Gatsby’s love affair there was not technology like there is today, Gatsby still used similar attention-grabbing techniques that we use now with technology.

The lavish parties, the “convenient” location of his house by Daisy’s, and much more were all for one purpose: winning Daisy back. Nobody really knew the real Gatsby – who he was or what he did. The attention Gatsby collected from strangers never mattered, as the only person he sought gratification and attention from was Daisy.

So, how can we take those lessons into our lives today? Nearly every person, corporation, organization, etc. use social media, in today’s age. When we share our lives on the Internet we often choose to only share the best parts of it. Even if it’s not the best parts always we still filter what we want people to see and we usually have a reason for it.

Someone might share a picture of the new car they bought saying how great it is to have a new ride. But maybe they spent the last of their money on a new vehicle. A woman might post a picture of herself in a new dress saying how good she feels and people might see her as superficial. But maybe she spent most of her life hating how she looked.

Just like we look for a certain reaction out of a certain person or group of people when we post things about our life on the Internet, Gatsby put on a show to capture the attention of one woman.

People claimed to adore him, but this adoration, like the front Gatsby, put up, was inaccurate. Everyone’s true opinion of him shone in all its glory when the time for his funeral finally came.

Nick Carraway was the sole attendee of Gatsby’s funeral, and probably the only person who truly understood him. And why? Because Nick’s idea of Gatsby was born from time spent with him and conversations had with him. The party-goers of Gatsby’s elaborate parties couldn’t even say what he looked like.

In one of Nick’s final exchanges with Gatsby he says to him, “they’re a rotten crowd…you’re worth the whole damn bunch put together”.

The Great Gatsby teaches us a tremendous amount about building relationships and how to stay true to ourselves as we chase after what we want. We can carry these lessons with us into the digital age we live in and strive to match our online personas to our real-life personas. After all, a façade only lasts for so long before it collides with reality.

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