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!