This TED talk features Sherry Turkle, an award winning author on the potential of technology and computers specifically. Her book came out in the 80’s, when new advances were historic. The first computers showed the potential to drastically change the way we live. Turkle’s book praised the innovation and cited many of the issues or daily activities that this could address.
Her opinion has changed, too many texts, Turkle says, can be bad. Originally, as a psychologist she hoped we could use what we learned in the virtual world about ourselves and identities to live better lives in the real world.
“I’m still excited by technology, but I believe and I’m here to make the case that we’re letting it take us places that we don’t want to go.” She’s been studying technologies of mobile communication for the past 15 years and has concluded that our devices are so psychologically powerful that they change what we do, how we act and even who we are. We no longer give each other our full attention, we remove ourselves from situations and go into our phones- at conferences, meetings, while hanging out, even at funerals.
This changes how we relate to each other, but especially “how we relate to ourselves and our capacities for self-reflection”. People are now used to being with each other while being somewhere else, having every other option at their finger tips. We try to gain control by “customizing” our lives, being free to go in and out of places and attention. Turkle says that many people “want to go in and out of all the places they are because the thing that matters most to them is control over where they put their attention. So you want to go to that board meeting, but you only want to pay attention to the bits that interest you. And some people think that’s a good thing. But you can end up hiding from each other, even as we’re all constantly connected to each other.”
She touches on so many aspects of our relationship with technology and affects on our relationships with others and ourselves. Human relationships are not meant to be controlled, edited and planned. We need to wake up and see that the technology we think we control has turned the tables on us. When we’re lonely we automatically reach for a phone or computer. We know that people will read a facebook or twitter post, but it’s a cowardly way to hide from real interaction and an excuse to redefine how we share our feelings.