Liking is for Cowards

11 November 2016

Part of your essay must focus on how Jonathan Franzen tries to engage a young audience and on the message of the essay. Jonathan Franzen’s speech was given to the college students at Kenyon, Ohio, USA. The introduction part of the speech is Jonathan Franzen talking about his relationship to his newly purchased phone, and how he got rid of his old one.

Choosing the subject of smartphones, definitely points in the direction of a younger audience, since adults rarely care for technology as much as the youth usually does. “… I replaced my three-year-old BlackBerry Pearl with a much more powerful BlackBerry Bold”. Obviously enough the speech isn’t an advertisement about what the new BlackBerry Bold can do, but since young people relate to technology, the college students might have their interest awoken of the wisely chosen subject.

Liking is for Cowards Essay Example

Continuing with the subject of phones the speech giver furthermore uses metaphors such as: “… or doing that spreading-the-fingers iPhone thing that makes images get bigger” to engage his audience. Jonathan Franzen mentions the word “sexy” and then compares a perfectly working erotic relationship to magic: “And how, when we want to describe an erotic relationship that’s working perfectly, we speak, indeed, of magic”. He could’ve used a lot of other comparisons, but again he choses a subject very important to a young community at a college – eroticism.

Getting past the introduction of the speech the author gradually presents the message of the text – love/passion for your interests: “Let me suggest, finally, that the world of techno-consumerism is therefore troubled by real love, and that it has no choice but to trouble love in turn”. He hereby tries to create a judicial separation between the passionate real love, and the love for material goods. The speech giver mentions how material love is very costly for one to maintain, since: “The message, in each case, is that if you love somebody you should buy stuff”.

Cleverly enough he lets the low budget students know, that not only is the love for material goods expensive to maintain, it’s also not nearly as lasting and beneficial for yourself as real love. He sets up his own point as being the only smart choice in this scenario. Moving on with the speech, Jonathan Franzen selects another topic related to the youth in general – Facebook: “A related phenomenon is the transformation, courtesy of Facebook, of the verb “to like”…” Ingeniously he talks about another very noteworthy point in his speech, using Facebook as the “motivator”.

Bringing up Facebook as a subject encourages the students to keep their interest in the speech, and makes it easier for the speech giver to maintain his audiences focus on his actual point. That point being, “Liking is for Cowards”. Jonathan Franzen discusses the concept of being likable compared to being loved, and it clearly shines through that being liked is not an option in his opinion: “If you dedicate your existence to being likable, however, and if you adopt to make it happen, it suggest that you’ve despaired of being loved for who you really are”.

Being liked is in his opinion fake, and in most cases it’s only for the nonce. The parallel to maintaining technology, his first topic of the speech, is easily drawn to maintaining the occasion of being liked. In both instances you have to stay updated, whether it’s buying a new phone or changing your haircut they’re both just temporarily and require a lot of dedication. The question being, would anyone want to invest all of his or her time in something only momentarily likable, when you can be loved just as you are?

The authors’ opinion shines through: “The simple fact of the matter is that trying to be perfectly likable is incompatible with loving relationships”. – “… Something realer than likability has come out in you, and suddenly you’re having an actual life”. Jonathan Franzen hereby states, that being liked is fictional, and not something you can actually experience whilst living your real life. Being liked have been created by the Internet, and can only be experienced over the Internet. The reason being: “There is no such thing as a person whose real self you like every particle of.

This is why a world of liking is ultimately a lie”. – “But there is such a thing as a person whose real self you love every particle of”. Having set up the clear separation between being liked and being loved, the speech giver moves on with the topic of risks involved with loving, being loved and why this is worth it. “… And yet pain hurts but it doesn’t kill”. – “To go through a life painlessly is to have not lived. ” Instead of using metaphors, hidden messages or anything a like, Jonathan Franzen uses examples from his own life to prove his points to his audience in the last part of the speech.

This makes it easier for the students to relate to him, which again makes it easier for the speech giver to make his message shine through: “When I was in college, and for many years after, I liked the natural world”. “… even a pigeon or a robin, I could feel my heart overflow with love. And love, as I’ve been trying to say today, is where our troubles begin”. Jonathan Franzen builds up his message, and keeps the suspense going. At this point of the speech the audience properly already know what his message to themselves is, but he decides to drag it out as long as possible.

This is certainly related to the feeling of watching a movie involving a bomb about to explode, a feeling all of the students have definitely had: “And here’s where a curious paradox emerged” – “How does this happen? ”. Lastly the author ends his speech with a clear message to the students of the Kenyon college: “… But when you go out and put yourself in real relations to real people, or even just real animals, there’s a real danger that you might love some of them. And who knows what might happen to you then? . The author uses a lot of rhetorical means to engage his young audience, some of them being: choosing subjects the youth easily relates to, bringing meaningful things of their lives to discussion – Facebook being one of these, keeping their interest awoken by changing subjects a lot, yet he manages to draw a clear red line through his entire speech, dragging out his message as long as possible, to make sure everyone is listening when he closes his speech with the message to the college.

The message is obvious to anyone at this point: live your life, maintain your passions, take the necessary risks of love if needed, or you’ll end up being liked and disliked, in a virtual world without real love and real pain for that matter. The title of his speech perfectly sums up the message: “Liking Is for Cowards. Go for What Hurts”.

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