Book Review – Super Sad True Love Story

I aim to cover progressive approaches to business.  Reviews of fictional works don’t usually qualify.   However, a novel I just finished seems germane to my “future business” theme:  “Super Sad True Love Story” by Gary Shteyngart.

Shteyngart explores one possible future that may follow from some of our current trends.  He painfully describes in detail the distopian demise of the american society and economy.  It would not be quite so painful if it were not obvious that we have already started down many of the paths he treads.

In his future, people have become fanatically involved in their personal information devices;  to the point where face to face interaction has become somewhat awkward.  People relate to each other based on a series of public scores/rankings.  Starting to sound familiar?

In this fictional society the US is even more indebted to foreign powers who have grown impatient with our inability to handle our economic and social issues.  Everyone is so worried about their personal status and their purchasing power that they have lost all sight of what it takes to create real value and drive an economy.

Happily, I can envision some different paths for the US.  I am heartened by the new class of social entrepreneurs and the recent increased focus on education.  We have a growing set of people with good ideas and the gumption to execute.  If we can win the masses over from their sense of entitlement, innovation could usher in a new wave of prosperity.  The US has a rare combination of access to capital, resources, and tools for innovators to succeed.

My hope is that more and more people will weave innovation into their day job, ideas they have for a side business, or social projects they pursue.  Future business in this country can be even more successful than ever if the majority stop acting like cogs and begin working as engines.

Anyone else read this book? Even if you haven’t, what are your thoughts on where we are headed?

2 responses to “Book Review – Super Sad True Love Story

  1. I read it and thought it was fantastic, and found it a scary vision of where we may be as a country within a few years. This book is the 1984 of the early 21st century, although with a better plot and better writing. Shteyngart’s ideas of what the future will bring don’t seem incredibly farfetched–in fact they hit way too close to home. How do we avoid getting completely caught up in our technology and our devices, to the point where we can’t meet and get to know people without using the internet to research them first? To the point where without a digital personality you don’t exist?

  2. Thx Caroline. Great points. Though its been so long since I read 1984 so I can’t recall the quality of the writing. 🙂

    I also thought it was interesting that everyone today is so busy trying to optimize self. While in some cases that approach can optimize the overall well-being, there is no doubt there are circumstances where this leads to a very bad aggregate.

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