TED Conversations

Meg Robinson

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What constitutes shared experience in the twenty-first century?

How has our concept of shared experience evolved, particularly in light of digital technology? Are we more or less connected to one another? Is there a qualitative hierarchy of types of communication which are more or less fulfilling?


Closing Statement from Meg Robinson

Sumesh, you make an excellent point about this hypothetical factory worker. For many people, it could be the case that they have mundane and perhaps difficult relationships in the real world. For these people, access to a broader array of people through digital communications is a form of enrichment and expansion of one's intellectual and emotional life.

To summarize, there are many types of shared experiences in our lives – some of them are in person some occur digitally. They each have advantages and disadvantages but the mixture of the two will be a part of our lives in the 21st-century. The key point is to be aware of the inherent strengths and weaknesses of each form of communication so that we do not live an unbalanced life where the digital takes over face to face in person relationships. We need to take charge of when and how we use technology so that we retain the richness and depth of what it means to fully human.

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    Jan 18 2014: Hannah, Thanks for your insightful comment. I agree that written communication allows us to edit our thoughts and reflect on what we are saying in a way that we cannot do when we are physically with another person. Your point that we are allowed to formulate our thoughts more carefully in writing is true. However, you go on to say that face-to-face communication offers much more intimacy and connection with another person.

    So do you think we need to create a hierarchy of interaction? Would you say that face-to-face, in person communication is at the highest level because it offers the most contact with human beings? Or is the best scenario to have both options when communicating with another person? We can write to them, carefully formulating our thoughts and reflecting on our ideas, but for the relationship to progress, must we also have a a certain proportion of face to face contact?

    There has been much debate over written communicate taking the place of personal interaction. Can our emails and text messages allow us the same level of intimacy? Would a relationship only go so far if the majority of interactions occur through texting or emails? It strikes me that this kind of relating would be very limited indeed. It has its place, but cannot feel as connected as physically being with another person.

    What are your thoughts on this? Again, thank you for joining the conversation!
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      Jan 18 2014: I think to a certain extent, we should have both forms of communication, but texting should be for short conversations, maybe planning to meet up somewhere to go over something, or just to tell someone that you are thinking of them. Some people use texting to meet each other, and there are some people who would prety much lie about anything. I think that it is somewhat dangerous not to meet someone face to face the first few times. Human interaction is very healthy, and there can be a healthy amount of texting too. You can text, but don't let it replace human interaction. If I had to chose I would favor human interaction over texting,.

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