Connected But Alone?


This is an excellent presentation by Sherry Turkle that delves into the social implications surrounding the pervasiveness of today’s social networking tools. As an aspiring geek and blogger, I find it very interesting and on point. It’s an almost 20 minute commitment to watch. Can you give it your full attention for the duration, without looking at your smartphone? I couldn’t! And it wasn’t intentional. It was out of habit and I caught myself.

Some personal, if fragmented, observations:

  • It’s easy to see the allure of texting. Sending out a ping and getting a pingback. It’s an immediate validation. But it is also definitely a control thing. It shields you from the unknowns of face to face interaction and demands of thinking in real-time.
  • I’ve always felt the 128 character texting limit was something that would degenerate the art of conversation and reduce the ability to think in a comprehensive way.
  • As a Boy Scout leader I have seen for years how a group can be together yet entirely separate from one another as each disappears into their individual I-Pod worlds. Much of one’s ability to perceive their surroundings and bond with one’s cohorts is lost in this digital fog.
  • Smartphones are seductive toys. I play with them as well. I believe that for people of my generation there was suddenly a demand for real-time information that was spawned by the horrors of that day on September 11. Suddenly, in the face of those events, there was a desperate need for and lack of information about friends and  family. Was more coming? Where? That day was a pivot point in many, many ways. And with it, access to real-time information became a critical survival tool.
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4 Responses to Connected But Alone?

  1. Alex says:

    So true, I’m completly in accord with you. This behaviour is dramatic here in Italy, because our language is complex and really full of shades that can paint things in many different ways. The “short message” era is flattening this richness down. Anyway, I’m not nostalgic ’cause I love the anglo-saxon pragmatic approch to find the point of the conversation without loosing the focus. The match is the right syntesis.

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