Oracle Author Runner-Up in NYT’s Essay Contest

The Oracle‘s own Jenna Park ’21 was selected as a runner up out of over 2,000 students who submitted essays to the New York Times’ second annual December challenge to “connect what you’re learning in school with the world today. Read her full essay below.

In my English class at school, I’ve had the pleasure of reading “The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury. In this short story, Bradbury paints a world where technology is so advanced that it creates confusion between reality and fantasy. Although the short story was published way back in 1950, almost 70 years from today, it astonished me how Bradbury foresaw the implications of technology on people’s lives. The New York Times article, “Technology Has Destroyed Reality” by Hito Steyerl, correlates closely with Bradbury’s work. Steyerl shares with her audience that technology “divides and fragments” people, just as Bradbury’s nursery ultimately separates and destroys the family’s relationship.

Although there is no roaring lion in Steyerl’s piece, she describes how contemporary technology provides a “custom-made” reality for “your preferences” if you “don’t like the reality you’re facing.” As Bradbury highlights the dangers and fears of relying on technology too much, Steyerl underscores how our very real technology promotes fake news, false reports, and rumors, as well as technology’s effects on the workforce.

Both Bradbury and Steyerl focus on the addictive nature of technology, which I, as a teenager, can especially relate to. My generation may be the last that remembers what it was like to not have a smartphone that instantly connects us across social media platforms to bots and real-life people. Too often, we can’t distinguish the blurred line between the real world and the world of the internet. More and more, I worry about the real-world implications of online shooter games. In a culture where school shootings are far too prominent, I fear how young people, disconnected from reality, don’t see the more significant implications of violence or the danger of firearms like an AR-15 that was used in Parkland.

It’s impossible to escape technology today. Each time I see a mother hand a smartphone or a tablet to their children so they can peacefully enjoy their meals, I immediately wonder if technology, like Bradbury states, is now “their mother and father, far more important in their lives than their real parents.” While technology will undoubtedly be an essential part of our lives in the future, both Bradbury and Steyerl push us to ask what we are willing to give up as a result.

Read about all the winners here.

(Copyright 2019 Jenna Park)


Jenna Park

JENNA PARK IS A THREE-YEAR JUNIOR AT BLAIR ACADEMY AND A WRITER FOR THE ORACLE. SHE ENJOYS READING, WRITING, SPORTS, AND LOVES MUSIC, ESPECIALLY SINGING. SHE HOPES TO BE A CONTRIBUTING MEMBER OF THE ORACLE AND DELIVER NEWS ON A RANGE OF DIVERSE TOPICS FOR THE BLAIR COMMUNITY.