I stumbled across a TedTalk the other day by MIT Professor & Psychologist Sherry Turkle . She studies how technology is shaping our modern relationships: with others, with ourselves, with it. Lately, she’s focused her attention to social media and sociable robots. She argues that we’re “drawn by the illusion of companionship without the demands of intimacy, we confuse postings and online sharing with authentic communication. We are drawn to sacrifice conversation for mere connection.”
In a world that is so connected, we’re shouting to be heard amongst all the chatter of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms. Turkle talked about an experiment she conducted a few years back, she brought in these robots to these nursing homes to keep the elderly company. And she found that, the elderly would spend their days just chatting about random small bits of their lives to the robots, the elderly felt that they were having meaningful conversation because it felt like the robots were listening since it seemed like the robots were paying attention. Turkle then realized a sad truth to our society; we’re so consumed making connections with one another, that we’re missing fundamental human elements to our culture.
In a society that is so connected by technology, sometimes we forget to add the human touches like listening, and eye contact. Today our phones are always on, and always on us. Turkle pointed out, that the devices in our pocket has the power to shape us. But digital technology is still in it’s infancy, there is ample time for us to reshape how we build and use it.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE social media & technology. I get to stay in touch with my family in Hawaii and my friends in across the world. But I’m starting to realize the need to sometimes unplug from technology. So here’s my new goal: I want to take the time to have more meaningful conversations; and not be so focused on checking my phone every 10 seconds to see what’s happening on social media (i.e. my 3 lethal kryptonites: Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook) and focus on living in the moment.