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Our flight from conversation

by | May 5, 2012 | Technology: Issues and Uses | 2 comments

Have you ever observed what Sherry Turkle writes of in a recent New York TImes article…

  • “We live in a technological universe in which we are always communicating. And yet we have sacrificed conversation for mere connection.”
  • “A 16-year-old boy who relies on texting for almost everything says almost wistfully, “Someday, someday, but certainly not now, I’d like to learn how to have a conversation.””
  • In the silence of connection, people are comforted by being in touch with a lot of people — carefully kept at bay. the move from conversation to connection

In a TED Talk video presentation she comments

  • “What’s wrong with having a conversation?” People say, “I’ll tell you what’s wrong with having a conversation. It takes place in real time and you can’t control what you’re going to say.” So that’s the bottom line. Texting, email, posting, all of these things let us present the self as we want to be. We get to edit, and that means we get to delete, and that means we get to retouch, the face, the voice, the flesh, the body — not too little, not too much, just right.
  • “Human relationships are rich and they’re messy and they’re demanding. And we clean them up with technology. And when we do, one of the things that can happen is that we sacrifice conversation for mere connection. We short-change ourselves. And over time, we seem to forget this, or we seem to stop caring.
  • “I’m not suggesting that we turn away from our devices, just that we develop a more self-aware relationship with them, with each other and with ourselves.

She has written several books focusing on the psychology of human relationships with technology, especially in the realm of how people relate to computational objects.

In Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, Sherry Turkle discusses  how human encounters are growing fewer. She talks about teenagers’ actions of “friending” strangers on Facebook and how kids prefer to text or instant message rather than talking on the phone or even face to face. In her book, she focuses mainly on the consequences of the new texting trend.


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