Watch: TED Talk on being alone together
Sherry Turkle, renowned psychologist and author, highlights how the digital world is entering our personal space.
We have become so vulnerable to technology that in real life we all are alone even when we are together. Our ‘plugged-in life’ is unplugging us from real relationships and the real world.
We have given power to the virtual world to make us feel connected, to teach us about ourselves and reflect our identity. These little devices in our pockets are so powerful that they not only change ‘what we do’ but also ‘who we are’. She introduces us to the “Goldilocks Effect- not too close, not too far”. It suggests that a certain distance is necessary to initiate real conversation and to feel.
The introduction of technology is a boon only when it is used wisely. It is impacting people of all age groups. When adolescents require parents’ attention, the latter are busy emailing and texting. And this goes on when these kids grow up into adults and their children demand attention.
An 18-year-old is so afraid of conversing in real life that he remarked, “… someday, someday but certainly not now, I would like to learn how to have a conversation…”
On being asked, “What is the problem with a real conversation?”, some replied, “It takes place in real time and you can’t control what you’re going to say.” This highlights the human need to have a control over everything, even relationships and feelings. We all want to present our filtered self to the world. We get to edit, delete and redraft before sending a text!
Human relationships are rich, messy and they are demanding as well. However, we sanitise them with technology and unburden ourselves. In a way, we have stopped caring about each other and even ourselves.
We listen and rely on devices (technology), which have no experience of human emotions. These machines are actually socially developed robots who have never encountered the arc of human experiences. Still, we have designed the technology to give us the illusion of companionship.
Turkle urges us to communicate and converse in real life. Feel the isolation and try to uproot it through feelings and not by using technology.
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