In Richard Louv’s social commentary “Last Child in the Woods,” he develops the idea that technology and commercialism block people from the imagination and creativity that nature provides.
Louv’s anecdotes and expressive imagery, comparing nature to a film, emphasizes the concept of human dependence on technology that blinds people from nature. Technology has reached every aspect of human lives and is continuously advancing, whether it be with talking GPS or backseat television in cars. Human desire for the cutting edge has gone as far as to cause confusion at a car dealership when a woman refuses to purchase the advanced car technology. By including the specific story of a woman refusing to buy the car with the newest, “premium” backseat television and the astonished reaction of the salesmen, Louv provides context for the depth of human dependence on innovative and progressive technology. The reaction of the salesmen proves people’s craving of technology has become a social norm; the salesmen “‘almost refused to let me[the woman] leave the dealership until he could understand.”’ By using tactful figurative language, Louv paints his childhood scene of waiting with “reverence at the horizon as thunderheads and dancing rain moved with us,” his romantic reminiscence causes the reader to yearn for an experience that they are lacking themselves because of the neglect of nature. The generation of nature appreciation has been replaced with artificial entertainment. “Sesame Street” and “Grand Theft Auto” are cheap counterfeits, guised under a modern “luxury” culture. The
Louv asserts that commercialism caused humans to exploit and abuse nature, overall leading to a stunt in human thinking and lack of inspiration. In the past watching out of a car window held a sort of adoration; the older generation watched nature whisk by and allowed the earth to inspire poetry. The same past generation allowed themselves to be persuaded by nature to ponder upon “the past and dreamed of the future.” Louv appraises the current state of unappreciation by excluding the present from the times worth dreaming about. In the same way the present time has lost its worth, nature has too. Louv’s appraisal is shown with his dismissal of all the imagination and creativity that once was. The moments and time of nature where people once watched in awe was replaced with watching the beauty “all go by in the blink of eye.” The author introduces the idea that people have begun manipulating nature and confining resolute nature to the limits of people’s imagination. By referencing a research project at New York State on butterflies, Louv exposes the disrespect of genetically modifying butterflies–an originally organic creature– for commercial purposes. Advertisers see the environment as merely another medium of “moving ads” that are used to the full extent with “logos on parks” and “ad space” in return for money to maintain the parks with a higher quality to be associated with the corporation sponsoring the area. Louv includes the excerpt of Matt Richtel, “‘Sponsorship-wise, it’s time for nature to do its part,’” to articulate his own feelings of irony in Richtel’s words. . Louv’s satire allows the reader to understand that people are already dissatisfied with nature; as if nature was not living up to the ridiculous profit standards placed upon it.
Louv’s nonfiction novel argues that technological distractions are the root of the separation between people and nature. Watchful eyes driving down a highway used to observe the scenery full of admiration and in awe of how nature was designed, but now this new generation focuses on pixelated screens and fabricated recreation.