Have you ever texted to avoid an uncomfortable phone call?
Have you ever pulled out your phone to browse social media while you were out with friends?
Have you ever found yourself reaching for your phone subconsciously, for no apparent reason?
If so, then you might enjoy our interview with the pioneering cultural analyst, Sherry Turkle (@sturkle). Professor Turkle is one of the leading voices on how technology is shaping our relationship with others and ourselves. She has a new book coming out this week called “Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age.” I got to chat with her about the new book, her vision for the future, and what inspired her to study the intersection of technology and human connection.
I first learned about Sherry from her now famous TED talk called “Connected, But Alone.” In her talk, she beautifully discusses the idea we are asking for more from technology and less from each other. She was one of the first people to articulate the false sense of connectivity that our devices and online personas have brought to prominence.
Jonathan Franzen recently reviewed her book for the New York Times and his opening paragraph summarize her contribution and place in society better than I can…
Sherry Turkle is a singular voice in the discourse about technology. She’s a skeptic who was once a believer, a clinical psychologist among the industry shills and the literary hand-wringers, an empiricist among the cherry-picking anecdotalists, a moderate among the extremists, a realist among the fantasists, a humanist but not a Luddite: a grown-up. She holds an endowed chair at M.I.T. and is on close collegial terms with the roboticists and affective-computing engineers who work there. Unlike Jaron Lanier, who bears the stodgy weight of being a Microsoft guy, or Evgeny Morozov, whose perspective is Belarussian, Turkle is a trusted and respected insider. As such, she serves as a kind of conscience for the tech world.
Sherry challenges us to ask important questions about the role that we want technology to play in our lives. If we aren’t intentional with the way we use our devices and conscious about how we conduct ourselves online, we risk developing habits that eliminate the authenticity and thoughtfulness that is essential for the human connection we need to live a happy life.
Let’s all take a moment to question WHY we are using our devices the way we are and ask if we’re happy with the role they have in our lives.
Use your devices and technology because you truly want to, not because you did it a certain way yesterday.