Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sherry Turkle on the flight
from conversation

Sherry Turkle writes about the flight from conversation:

I spend the summers at a cottage on Cape Cod, and for decades I walked the same dunes that Thoreau once walked. Not too long ago, people walked with their heads up, looking at the water, the sky, the sand and at one another, talking. Now they often walk with their heads down, typing. Even when they are with friends, partners, children, everyone is on their own devices.
I see the flight from conversation every day in college hallways: a dozen or more students waiting to enter a classroom, every student silent, sitting or standing against the wall and staring at a device. The students are, as Turkle would say, “alone together.” And yes, I talk with my students about this phenomenon, which, I admit, I find unnerving.

The saddest details in Turkle’s piece: a high-school student who “wishes he could talk to artificial intelligence program instead of his dad about dating,” and another who says, “Someday, someday, but certainly not now, I’d like to learn how to have a conversation.”

comments: 4

Elaine said...

Turkle is amazing. I remember an early book--it has to be 40 years now--when she asked children about computers (Were they alive? Could they think?) which were at that time relatively rare in households. So--she is still exploring the interface of applied technology and our lives as families, students, friends....

Michael Leddy said...

That sounds like The Second Self (1984). I think I still have it somewhere in my office.

Barnaby Capel-Dunn said...

Many thanks, Michael, for bringing this illuminating article to my attention. It gives furiously to think.

Michael Leddy said...

You’re welcome, Barnaby.