Ted talks: Connected but not Alone

In Sherry Turkle’s latest Ted talk “Connected but not Alone”, she catalogs many points concluding that technology is a device powerful enough to alter the human psyche. It is a means by which we change who we are and what we do. Technology usage has led focused businessmen to inefficiently allocating their time to their cellphone, especially during meetings. Learning is now done by paying attention to Facebook rather than a teacher, and family time is no longer what it once was. We are obsessed with our technological devices and they redefine the way we interact and communicate with others, as well as the way we reflect on and define ourselves. Turkle accredits these new, unhealthy habits to several ideas. The first is that our handheld devices give us control. We can customize out lives by deciding where we devote our attention.  It is a means to hide from others and to project a front of ourselves that we have control over. In a real time conversation, we can’t control our impulses to say things or rewind if we say something we don’t mean. On our phones we can edit, delete, and revise. Thus, presenting the “self” as we want it to be.

As Turkle points out, there are many downfalls to being too hooked on technology. Human development relies on learning from human interaction. Being connected rather than conversing compromises our capacity for self-reflection, especially for kids at a younger age. We can’t learn from each other; learn to read body language, understand tones of voice, and many other key communication skills. Being connected takes away from the experience and lessons learned from making a mistake. Machines are personified by suggesting that they offer companionship. Social networking sites allow us to post whatever we feel like and lead to automatic listeners; something many feel is lacking in the real world. But how can they offer companionship when they have no experience, no empathy, and no feeling? I agree with Turkle in the fact that we cannot substitute technology for human relations. The sad truth is, we have begun to expect and rely more on technology than each other. People don’t like feeling alone and their solution is to be “connected”.  But connection leads to isolation. People have degraded to identifying themselves by the idea, “I share therefore I am.” Users want to have feelings or a profound idea for the sole purpose of putting it online and texting it to others. Always being connected to not feel alone ironically makes you more alone.

Drawing from Deborah Lupton’s Essay “The Embodied Computer/User”, I agree with Turkle’s argument. People need to develop more self-aware relationships internally and externally. Lupton makes a similar argument that since we are face to face with computers more than humans, we have developed an emotional relationship with technology. Lupton claims that the boundaries are blurred between the computer and self. Over usage of technology has led to a disembodied mind. This same idea is seen in Turkle’s argument where she shows how by conversing over the Internet, we can hide, embellish, and edit ourselves to show ourselves as we would rather be seen. If we are not linked to technology we are lost, life is unimaginable, and both Turkle and Lupton agree that this is an unhealthy path for us to continue down.

-Samantha Gray

122 thoughts on “Ted talks: Connected but not Alone”

  1. Sam, I agree with your comments regarding the comparisons between Lupton’s piece and Turkle’s Ted Talk. We do need to develop more self-aware relationships both internally and externally because technology is transforming our ways of communication. We need to listen to others, but most importantly ourselves. As Turkle points out, technology is creating a false sense of companionship that is negatively affecting society.

  2. I definitely agree with you about the point you made that the connection leads to isolation when it comes to technology. Because we rely so much on technology to fulfill all of our communication needs that we lose the concept of what it truly means to be connected with people. It is so much easier for people to text someone rather than to go see them and have a conversation. But people must stop and contemplate at what cost does this ease come with? Sure we are not sacrificing as much effort by using technology, but we are also depriving ourselves of an actual connection with people. It is much more meaningful when people put in the effort because it shows that they are truly invested in their actions.

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