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Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology Essay

The day and the life of a teenagers, is consumed with text messages, Face time, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Face book messages. Many of us watch TV, listen to music, and “live chat” with our friends by way of the “smart phone”. I’m sure our parents wished for once, we would “look up” from our phones and have an actual conversation with them, but we can’t. We’re addicted to our phones. And sadly, this is typical living for modern people to “deal with” this hurried and fast-paced society. Nevertheless, it seems that we have less and less time to face the real world around as “technology” owns us. Is this new form of communication doing us good or bad? In chapter eight of the book “Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other,” the author Sherry Turkle, emphasize that people prefer technology over face-to-face communication and therefore, as known as “cyborgs”.

It seems impossible for people to a moment without technological devices such as webcams, cell phones or laptops. We love the ideal of staying connected with others by way of our handheld or lap devices. As stated by the author, “cyberspace” offer teenagers a place to create and explore identity. Additionally, virtual communities, such as the internet, allow us a chance at forming a “Second Life”. By creating an avatar, we can edit our lives as we know it by creating a profile that will attract “followers, friend requests, and likes”. We literally have our relationships in the “palm” of our hands. But, is this real? Can we sustain these types of relationships? As noted in the chapter, “Virtual places offers connection with uncertain claims to commitment…People talk about digital life as the “place for hope,” the place where something new will come to them” (Turkle 153). I can admit to checking my phone just about every 5 minutes for a new pictures or messages from my “friends”.

Social media provides instant updates and allow us to stay attune with what’s happening in the world – my world. However, Turkle’s stance remains neutral, yet depicts both the advantages and disadvantages being tethered to the internet gives us. We tend to remove ourselves from society by talking on phones or glancing down at screens of their mobile devices. We “log out” of the “real world” and “log in” the virtual space and therefore, cease the interaction or human connection with people surrounding us. In Chapter 1, Turkle states “…Whether or not our devices are in use, without them we feel disconnected, adrift. Gradually, we come to see our online life as life itself. … Technology reshapes the landscape of our emotional lives, but is it offering the lives we want to lead?” (16, 17). We’re unable to live without technology. We have conditioned ourselves to never leave home without our devices. Gone are the days of remember important contact information. Our handheld device house all of this information, so should we lose the smart phone, we’re completely lost.

Moreover, people feel like their abilities are enhanced and efficiency are increased while multitasking. As noted in chapter 8, “…We have moved from multitasking to multi-lifing.” (160). In fact, we’re unable to perform basic tasks without some form of technological device near us – streaming music, TV, or live chats. It seems that we gain more time from the technological devices than we gain from picking up the phone or having a face-to-face meeting. Turkel, stated, “The online life may be enjoyable and fulfilling, making one even less satisfied with life at home. Networked, we are together, but so lessened are our expectations of each other that we can feel utterly alone. And there is the risk that we come to see others as objects to be accessed–and only for the parts we find useful, comforting, or amusing.” (154).

Our expectations have “dimmed” due to our reliance on text messages, emails, and other social media outlets. We accept cryptic messages instead of organized, well throughout communications or agenda. Is there such a thing as social media overload? Can we escape from our devices long enough to simply “breathe”? One of the examples from the book, a museum curator Diane, she can barely keep up with the pace of technology. It’s her goal to remain “offline” in order to enjoy her life during her scheduled vacation and not feel inclined to response to the “unread” messages. The author suggests to us that in order to have more time to think, we have to the networked devices away, especially our youth.

The author, Sherry Turkle, does not clearly express whether she encourage or discourages the use of networked devices, however, through her words, we can see that she implies that it is important for that we take a break from the virtual world and try to get back to the basics. As for my opinion, I enjoy my smart phone and the access that I have, however, realize after reading this book, I need to develop “real” friendships and not rely on my “followers” on the popular social media outlets to bring me instant gratification. However, I agree with the author, people have a hard time relaxing because we’re always “on” and in receipt of news, be it good or bad. Yet, I choose the virtual world.

Works Cited
Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. New York: Basic Books, 2011. Print.


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