The Tethered Self: An Analysis

Categories: EmotionRhetoric
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The Tethered Self: An Analysis

Our modern world without technology seems almost impossible. We are using less paper and more electronics; good for our environment, but bad for us as we are unitingly becoming slaves to a machine. In “The Tethered Self” by Sherry Turkle in the journal of “Continuing Higher Education Review,” she talks about how we are “tethered” to our devices. Turkle words it in a way that makes what is part of everyday life absolutely audacious. I cannot help but deny a growth in social abilities without so many pre-meditated conversations that come hand in hand when conversing over such sites.

I especially see this when she says, “Wherever I am, whatever I am doing, I have psychologically tuned to my access to connections that matter. (Turkle 8)” One of her main points is how we are constantly tuned into our access to the outside world like when Turkle speaks about the online persona a person can have. People seem to gain confidence online.

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They can pretend to be someone they are not. Social media sites can be “like being in a play. You make a character.” She mentions her own relatable experience of seeing many people pretend to be someone they are not or edit their online profile to “enhance” who they are to seem better than they really are. Essentially, Turkle’s argument is how social networking and the rapidly changing technical environment around us is “deteriorating” ourselves.

Almost everyone, of all ages, uses technology in their daily lives.

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Thus said, this article wasn’t intended for that complete market. Using the hints of her targeted discourse community, ‘she is writing this article for your average citizen or a town’s government. I assume this because of her repeated extreme examples of both common issues in a health aspect such as “anxiety”, and in societal terms when she references how we live through technology no matter where we go and that it should change. For example, this clearly shown when she says, “A train station is no longer a communal space, but a space of social collection: tethered selves come together but do not speak to each other. Each inhabits a private media bubble. Our media signal that we do not want to be disbursed by conventional sociality with physically proximate individuals (Turkle 3).” Turkle conveys her purpose of bringing awareness to how much we depend on electronics and how it is truly disrupting us from living our lives to the fullest by giving examples like these which she strengthens with logos, pathos, and ethos.

The three appeals strengthen her argument to appeal to her audience’s logic, emotion and establish her own credibility. This not only validates her argument but also makes it much more difficult to counter argue this notion without that person then using the three appeals. It subsequently targets different parts of your audience at the same time, which makes your argument much more effective and balanced.

Ethos refers to the credibility appeal, used to establish the writer as fair, open-minded, honest, and knowledgeable about the subject matter. The author creates a sense of him or herself as trustworthy and credible. She shows this by the beginning side note exemplifying how she is credible. To start, she has studied relational artifacts in the lives of children and the elderly since 1997.

Logos refers to the Logical appeal, which is the strategic use of logic, claims, and evidence to convince an audience of a certain point. This usually comes in the form of statistics or facts. Turkle uses this when she provides both current everyday cases and extreme historical cases to support her argument. For example, Turkle constantly gives examples of people who live in fear of “going off the grid,” and how people need to stay in contact with their social media connections or they face an abyss of abject panic and terror. An extreme historical example from the text would be,

The psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut writes about narcissism and describes how some people, in their fragility, turn other persons into “self-objects” in order to shore up their fragile sense of self (Ornstein, 1978). When people turn other people into objects, they try to turn a person into a kind of “spare part.” Disappointments inevitably follow, Teenage life today is rich in tearful crises on cellphones. (Turkle 11)

Thus said, I believe Turkle asserts that these are false connections. That we are developing a hunger for social media interruptions and a need to use others to fill the fragile pieces of our broken lives. We are not whole people anymore. We are fragile, broken people trying to feel whole by the feeble act of constantly distracting ourselves with social media connections. Unfortunately, I think we won’t be able to have real connections until we are “whole” and to live with solitude first· so we are at an eternal halt.

Pathos refers to the emotional appeal, which targets the emotions of the reader to create some kind of connection with the writer. Humans are in many ways’ emotional creatures, pathos can be a very powerful strategy in the argument. For this same reason, however, emotional appeal is often misused…sometimes to intentionally mislead readers or to hide an argument that is weak in logical appeal. In this case, Turkle effectively supports her argument using pathos to appeal to our emotions and support her own argument. She exemplifies this when she provides this real-life example.

·an older woman, 72, in a nursing home outside of Boston is sad. Her son broke off his relationship with her. Her nursing home is part of a study I am conduction on robotics for the elderly· She pets the robot once again, attempting to provide it with comfort. And in doing, she tries to comfort herself. What are we to make of this transaction as it unfolds between a depressed woman and a robot? Her sense of being understood is based on the ability of computational objects like Paro to convince their users that they are in a relationship. I call these creatures (some virtual, some physical robots) “relational artifacts.” · Do plans to provide relational robots to children and the elderly make us less likely to look for other solutions to their care? · The answers to such questions are not dependent on what computers can do today or what they are likely to be able to do in the future. These questions ask what we will be like, what kind of people are we becoming as we develop increasingly intimate relationships with machines. (Turkle 17)

Her use of this example, that exemplifies pathos, allows us to relate to her argument as we think of our own grandparents having this intimate relationship with a robot. How would we feel? Personally, to me, it is saddening because humans deserve human interaction to validate their emotions and again this relates to her use of logos.

Through this argument, I agree that our digital gadgets have become part and parcel of us and some of us cannot live without it. Our phones are on 24/7 and we are always online either posting comments on Facebook or following a trend on twitter. One thing I find so fascinating is how as a society we have accepted and tolerated certain norms that in about 20 years ago would have landed a person in a psychiatric hospital. Although, through digital media, geographical location is no longer a physical constraint. Today, families can communicate with each other on Facebook or Twitter on hourly bases. Also, families can save time by communicating directly with their physicians on their electronic gadgets. It depends if we have the discipline to use it only when we need·which we do not.

Works Cited

Turkle, Sherry. “Always on/Always on You: The Teathered Self.” MIT Press, 4 Aug. 2006, file:///C:/Users/14133/AppData/Local/Packages/Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_8wekyb3d8bbwe/TempState/Downloads/Sherry-Turkle_The-Tethered-Self-1%20(1).pdf.

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The Tethered Self: An Analysis. (2019, Nov 16). Retrieved from

The Tethered Self: An Analysis
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