Week 2: Alone, Together?

The development of new technologies in our society today has set a unique precedence in our everyday lives. Technology provides reason to be an oxymoron; facilitating both human connectedness, as well as a loss in human connectivity. There is an ongoing fear that media will substitute for face-to-face relationships. Social media networks and other technologies – like cell phones, Skype, and FaceTime – have allowed for efficient conversation and reconnection with old friends; however, in many cases, they have served as a substitute to relationships that should be sustained by face-to-face interactions.

Sherry Turkle, a professor in Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT, boldly states that this new era of technology has encouraged the idea that we are alone, together. Essentially, through using social media and other networking apps, we create a sense of connectedness with others. Despite having the ability to talk to anyone of your friends at the touch of a button, the physical act of burying oneself in a phone and their personal – but virtual – life creates the feeling of ‘aloneness’ in the public sector. Many people rely on mobile devices as they fill the void that is created when all our friends are busy. ‘Temptation’ and ‘addiction’ have been words recently associated with new technology and mobile devices; they’re the non-prescription drug that will never let us down. This continuous interaction and dependency with technology has created a new generation of individuals who are more concerned with appearance and social standing, than the quality of interaction with acquaintances. These technologies are guiding our emotional lives and setting the tone that ‘likes’ and ‘follows’ are a kind of valid currency in our society. Turkle believes that as we depend more and more on the latest and greatest technological inventions and mobile apps, we expect less and less from people. In a sense, we are ‘being used’ by the technology because we are losing control over its presence in our everyday lives.

Nancy Baym sees our world as a dystopian society, because it is progressively more difficult to stop or effectively slow down the change that technology has sprung upon us. “We must recall human purpose and hope,” Turkle declares, “[because] technology has become the architect of our intimacies.”

Watch Sherry Turkle’s TED Talk below!

One thought on “Week 2: Alone, Together?

  1. fmanto

    I really like this whole idea of “Alone, Together”, which you brought up in class! After watching Sherry Turkle’s TED Talk, it’s definite that she’s all about technological determinism. And though many of the things she said I agree with, after our discussion in class yesterday, her points are a little too negative for me. I do think that the internet has, in some way, filled some empty void that we have. There’s some level of satisfaction posting pictures and having “likes”. I’m not going to lie because I’ve experienced that myself. But I really do think that we are in control of the way we use our internet. It isn’t all consuming for everyone, and it’s honestly “connected” me to other people than before. I put connected in quotes because I feel like the internet has a new and different sense of “connection”. It allows for engagement in a different way than “engagement” in real conversations. Overall, Turkle had very interesting points, but I can’t agree with her leaning technological deterministic view. It’s a little of an exagerration.

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