Connected yet alone?

Tclipart from: microsoft clip art gallerhis is the second or third time in our set of four courses that I have come across work by Sherri Turkle.  I have watched her ted talk, read her opinion based short articles, watched the Front Line story and should most likely read her book.  While I do agree with some of her ideas, others are harder for me to swallow – maybe I am one of those people she is speaking about.

According to Loveys (2011), Turkle “claims that the technology is threatening to dominate our lives, making us more isolated and ‘less human’.”  Turkle (2012, pg 1) has concerns about families, people at meetings, out for dinner “sitting together, texting, reading email”, spending time together but not really.  She claims that

“what I’m seeing is a generation that says consistently, “I

would rather text than make a telephone call.” Why? It’s less risky.

I can just get the information out there. I don’t have to get all involved;

it’s more efficient. I would rather text than see somebody face to face” (2009).

I suppose if she were interviewing me (who is of an older generation), I would also answer this question exactly the same way.  I am somewhat of an introvert.  I like spending time alone, I would way rather text or email someone a question than make a phone call.  I prefer the time to think about what and how to say something that texting/emailing gives me.  When having a voice or face-to-face conversation, I have to quickly think on my feet, and I almost always (upon reflection) think of something I should have said but didn’t. I think that the ability to email and text people has actually increased the number of interactions I have with people on any given day.

I share a classroom with another teacher (we each teach 2 or 3 days a week) and we are constantly using texting to ask each other questions, touch base about an assignment, etc.  I can do it when the thought strikes me as opposed to forgetting about it and having to have a huge conversation later.  We love the time we have face-to face to talk, but our mobiles devices offer us something we find as value added as opposed to taking away as Turkle seems to believe.

Do you believe that our constant internet connections are taking away from your relationships and ability to have a conversation?

References:

Loveys, K. (2011). Online backlash: Facebook and Twitter ‘make us less human and isolate us from the real world’ Retrieved from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1349778/Facebook-Twitter-make-human-isolate-real-world.html

Turkle, S. (2009) Transcript of Interview from Digital Nation. Retrieved from: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/digitalnation/interviews/turkle.html

Turkle, S. (2012). The Flight From Conversation. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/opinion/sunday/the-flight-from-conversation.html?_r=0

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2 Responses to Connected yet alone?

  1. Towani says:

    When I read Turkle’s articles, I fully agreed with her ideas that technology was making us less human and less able to have a conversation, however, when I read your blog post, I have felt the way you feel as well. I have often found myself wanting to text or email rather than make a phone call or visit in person. I feel this way partially because it takes less time to get across a quick comment or question, but I also feel the way that you do about texting allowing me to communicate with the time to consider my word choice and not have to think quickly on my feet. But this also makes me wonder if, through the constant use of text and email, we are teaching ourselves to have different expectations of conversations. When we spend time crafting emails and texts and getting the wording just right, maybe this forces us to have higher expectations of our in-person conversations. We expect all of our communication to be thoroughly edited and makes us feel more intimidated to have spontaneous conversation. I guess this goes back to what Turkle was saying. Are we un-teaching ourselves the art of conversation?

    Thanks for your great post!
    Towani

  2. I’ve been pondering your question, “Do you believe that our constant internet connections are taking away from your relationships and ability to have a conversation?” Technology is like food. We need food to survive, yet overindulgence is a problem for a percentage of society. Technology is a tool that can be overused and abused. We sometimes make poor choices and allow ourselves to overindulge. The potential for internet to negatively impact our ability to hold face-to-face conversations exists. Turkle provides a powerful example: the 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.” (2012, para.7). This teenager needs to learn moderation and how to prioritize what is truly important.

    Alternately, technology can have a positive impact on our relationships and conversations. Through the need to foster relationships with her granddaughters, my mother has embraced texting. My daughters and mother text frequently, but often the texts spark phone calls to get the full story. My youngest texted her grandma yesterday to see if she was still awake. She then phoned her to tell her about an award she had won that day and the conversation went from there. In Carr’s Why Twitter will Endure (2010), he gives the example of forgetting there are others who are listening. He sent a complaint on Twitter while flying a cross-country flight. Within half-an-hour, a steward approached him with a potential solution. Technology can add value as you say, or it can taketh it away. It’s all in how we use it.

    References

    Carr, D. (2010). Why twitter will endure. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/03/weekinreview/03carr.html?pagewanted=all

    Turkle, S. (2012). The Flight From Conversation. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/opinion/sunday/the-flight-from-conversation.html?_r=0

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