Thursday, October 18, 2012

Reflections on Sherry Turkle's Alone Together Interview

Today, I found myself in the car while NPR's Terry Gross was interviewing MIT Psychologist, Sherry Turkle.

Sherry Turkle's book is called Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. The book analyzes the impact of technology on our social interactions, particularly the impact of technological natives, including the impact of kids with parents absorbed in technology.

In compiling tons of interviews of people of all ages, Turkle shared in her interview some of the conclusions of her research.

Of those she shared in the interview, what I found most interesting was her thoughts on why we text message (and may read a text versus making call, or answering one).

I always have declared myself not a phone person, and even though I don't hyper-text, I connected with the thought of checking a text and avoid voice-to-voice phone interaction.

Sherry Turkle's interviews led her to conclusion that we are quick to check the text because we want to know who needs us, and that phone or interpersonal action makes us vulnerable and unable to control the situation (the messages, the time spent talking, our responses, etc.).

Nothing Sherry said was surprising but it's got me thinking all day. One, it's helped me reflect on when other people might be more comfortable with a text message -- encouraging me to text to keep it simple and safe for others. But more than that, it's almost convicting that I'm more prone to e-mail or text someone than call. I've been thinking about what it would mean to pick up more often.

In a way, I'd like to set a personal goal to use more of those cell phone minutes I'm paying for...on the other hand, part of me worries if I am prone to pick up the phone before e-mail, texting or facebook messaging if I will isolate myself, not interacting in a modern way that "takes care of business" and keeps communication open.

What would to consciously avoid texting? Facebook messages? E-mails? And instead, choosing the phone in lieu of these methods. What would a plunge like this mean? What would be the impact?

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