TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

Technology doesn't create loneliness, it reveals it. Once revealed, technology can help alleviate isolation and spur connection.

Dr. Turkle urges reflection and analysis and the idea that technology is its infancy. These are two important ideas and I urge others to consider this perspective: that technology fosters connections and developmental growth among the most socially awkward and vulnerable.

A healthy relationship of any sort (e.g., romantic, friendship, family) requires reciprocity. But when these sorts of relationships are out of balance, technology can fill a void. I posit that while technology can lead to isolation, isolation can also lead to connection when a lonely individual reaches out to others or becomes involved in the community via technology.

I'm curious if others view the connection between technology and isolation as one-way or bidirectional or if some other perspective entirely is needed to describe the complex technology-human connection.


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Apr 5 2012: I don't see how technology creates loneliness at all. Twenty years ago if you were shy and couldn't communicate in person, you were forced to live a life alone. Today, many people who are too shy in person can have quite an online social life and a successful one. The idea that Sherry Turkle hold about us sacrificing communication for online sharing and a mere connection is wrong in my opinion.

    The whole idea of communication is to find connection. Just because she does not find the same level of connection as others do with online sharing doesn't make it worthless or have less meaning. To others this might actually be a better way to communicate.

    For example:
    I saw something that was funny on youtube and wanted to tell my friends about it. I could tell them when I see them in person or I could just link it directly to them since I can easily copy the link. Before the era of Internet sharing I would have been forced to talk about what I saw in a video and hope they understood just how funny it was, which coined the phrase, "You would have had to been there to understand." or "I guess you would have had to been there."

    Guess what, now we don't need to say that because we just linked the entire video directly to them. Now the communication was instant, and exactly how it was perceived by the original person. Now the conversation can go beyond just talking about what you saw into what you saw plus the shared connections of how it made you feel or what you got out of it or if it was genuinely funny for both of you.

    I'm sorry, I just don't see how sharing is not communicating. It in many cases is superior to just conversating about something.

    I grew up on games and the Internet and had next to no social life during my elementary days. When the Internet started to boom, my ability to communicate blasted through the roof. I'm now one of the center of the party social conversationalists. I didn't learn it from talking face to face. I learned it from the Internet.
    • thumb
      Apr 5 2012: I was very shy and stuttered as a child. I was frustrated but determined to break out. I worked in my family business with my older brother and one day I noticed how he greeted people. He put his hand out for a hand shake. That was my start of breaking out of a shell. It took courage but when I met people, that hand came out and broke the ice. Turkle isn't advocating shutting down the net. Just the tempering of use. I can't tell a good joke or story. I leave that up to others. But we do need to force ourselves out of our shells and into the soulful experience of life. The human experience on earth demands of us self improvement. My parents put great expectation on me. They told me that I was named after a saint that was the corner stone of the catholic church and that I was a leo and needed to be a leader.
      A friend once told me his wife and him did not talk much at all. I told him he should develop regular conversation with her, because if she ever left him he would want to know why.
      • Apr 6 2012: I was never saying we should shun the traditional methods of communication (face to face). I'm simply saying that just because a new type of communication comes into the picture you are not comfortable using, doesn't make it less meaningful to others. I feel the benefits to online sharing and micro updates are great and I feel they have a place in communication.

        I just disagree that they are disconnecting us from face to face conversations. I feel they augment our face to face conversations.
    • Steve C

      • +1
      Apr 7 2012: Sharing is communicating when it is not just "copy/paste." I was just thinking about a similar example the other day: what happens when we have to tell someone about a video we saw? We have to remember a lot, retell the story (imperfectly, yes - but still be able to tell it well). We have to make it (can we?) entertaining, animated - almost off-the-cuff or interactive. I think there'd be a lot of value in that. The difference is talking "about something" (external), or are you sharing something "from within" that changed you somehow.
      Since I'm here, and have room to type this: I think I knew a few kids who would have trouble sitting for a few minutes in silence. I don't think that's good.
      There it is: just a little editing.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.