Recently in class we listened to Sherry Turkle’s TED talk about the dangers of social media and networking. In the speech she repeatedly described people as “connected, but alone”. She was explaining that in our virtual reality the connections are superficial and lacking communication. We are able to be who we want to be, and pay attention to what we want to pay attention to. She argues that we are removing ourselves from real time, and hiding behind technology that distances us further. It is easy to agree with her, but it is also easy to disagree. I will discuss the points that I find it harder to agree with her about.
I think that Turkle does a good job arguing for solitude. I think that society needs to re-learn how to experience solitude and be alone, because it seems to have lost its value, especially in cities. We need to regain that value of free time, so regarding that, I agree with most of her points. However, when she starts arguing for conversation,she loses me. Mostly I am concerned about her research presentation – the qualitative data is represented by anecdotic examples that are hard to relate to from the viewpoint of audience (A nursing home resident comforted by a mechanical seal, a businessman not being able to have a conversation at work, so engaging with technology, and the 18-year-old hoping to learn how to have a proper conversation). And further on, in my opinion, it is overgeneralised.
World with a perfect communication has never existed, but Turkle keeps on referring to the past, using it as the ideal example. Even without technology we tend to not listen to the boring bits. Even without technology we would get distracted. The perfect world with the perfect communication doesn’t exist yet. That exists only in movies, but I don’t live in a movie. Unfortunately.
Turtle also mentions that face to face conversation unfolds slowly. It teaches patience. However, I don’t think it is the case. Many real life face to face conversations are aggressive, with the participants trying to express their personal power and opinion. After some research I could come up with extreme examples from this viewpoint throught interviews, but would it prove that communication through technology is richer? No. Sherry Turkle tells us to balance the time we spend connected with the time we spend in a conversation. it is right, but that is the key point of all the things in the world. Our life is a constant game of balancing between different opportunities and chances. It is not only about technology, it is about our habits, our relationships, and our lives.
Every day I find myself thankful for the social media and technologies we have nowadays. Because I am an international student, and I have friends all around the globe, it is the only chance to stay in close touch with people I love. When talking to an old lady in my village in Italy, and she kept on telling me how fortunate we are as a generation to have Facebook. It makes it easy to communicate with people that are too far to reach. I must admit that I spend a lot of time online, contacting people I haven’t seen in months or years. I spend way too much time there. However, I am still thankful for it. And I believe I am able to engage myself in a real conversation with those people, which is what I do, when I see them.And those conversations are real. Even if we have spent months sending electronical hugs.