As grandparents, we’ve all done it–walked into a room full of Loved ones and discovered everyone glued to their phones. Or we’ve had the experience of hosting the extended family for dinner, just to have the teens texting with friends as we try to inquire about college and that they are dating. Does not it look like our families really spent time together when we were growing up? Didn’t we anticipate such gatherings because they gave us time to speak, interact with each other, and catch up?
Among the challenges of living in the digital age is certainly That, in some ways, we have forgotten how to communicate–actually communicate–with each other, and with ourselves. Maybe you hear that statement and end up responding:
“What do you mean by that? Communication now is easier and Faster than previously. How have we forgotten how to get it done?”
It’s a fantastic question, and something that Sherry Turkle has been Talking about for many years while analyzing how communication and technology affect relationships. She claims that we will need to “reclaim conversation” and also our ability to genuinely connect with other people. According to Turkle, this occurs only as we are able to embrace solitude, without attempting to fill that void by endlessly “connecting” with others through technology.
It isn’t that having friends on Facebook and Instagram is Superficial, or that technology doesn’t play an essential part in helping us remain connected to each other. The problem is in how those mediums may make us feel like we are connected to a lot of individuals, once the truth is that we don’t really understand how our “friends” are truly doing. (Most of them probably do not know how we are performing, either.) Ironically, these types of relations can actually make us feel more alone.
And what about other things? For example, Ms. Turkle is worried That we are losing the capability to be real. Why? Because cultivating an online character makes it feasible for us to edit our own lives and only show the edition of ourselves we want all to see. If we have a dialog over text or email, we can think before we respond, and we’ve got the time to polish what we say rather than being required to engage in the moment. By comparison, face-to-face interaction means honest, off-the-cuff dialogue that provides a truer representation of who we are, unedited and raw.
Turkle says that technologies has also fostered what she terms the “Goldilocks effect,” meaning that it makes it feasible for us to maintain our relationships “not too near and not too much, but only right.” In trying to maintain so many connections available, nevertheless, we cultivate only that: a link. But that connection does not often entail a purposeful, profound interaction as a consequence of truly spending some time with someone else. In a nutshell, all of this “linking” gives us, as Sherry states, the “illusion of companionship without the requirements of friendship.” That type of linking looks like touching base, but it does not demand that we invest, be within a dialogue, give someone our entire attention, or sacrifice our time to actually talk to someone.
For all of these reasons, It Appears critically important that we Carve out chances to spend time with people we love, especially our children and grandchildren. While they are very adept at video and text messaging (and they will likely be thrilled when we participate with them in this manner), there really isn’t a substitute for spending time with the younger generation. These interactions can help them appreciate relationships which are real, images that are real, and interactions which are engaging and authentic. And in a day when so many don’t know how to have deep–or difficult–life discussions, we can mimic what those look like.
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The information and quotes in this post came from the following TED talks by Sherry Turkle: