Turkle seminar response

On February 15, 2017 Sherry Turkle gave a seminar about the new era of technology and the influence it has on modern day life. The first thing that Turkle stated was that she was not against technology but valued communication and noticed that there have been some changes in everyday life. The first observation she mentioned was the lack of empathy that has grown significantly over the past years. The second observation she noticed is in the way we, everyone, converse with each other. In other words, the different trends or patterns that are more dominant in conversations now than before the mass integration of technology. The final observation is similar to the first but delves more into the workplace.

What does the word empathy mean? In my opinion, the term empathy means to understand another person both emotionally and physically whether it involves writings, actions, or even daily conversations. During the seminar, there was a report mentioned which discovered that, “over the past thirty years the amount of empathy has drastically decreased (Turkle).” I tend to agree with this type of analysis because to me, it seems that as the amount of technology usage increased the direct result has been a decrease in empathy and an increase of sensitivity to topics, insecurity and more misunderstandings occur. For example, as the recent trend of instant messaging and social media increase a majority would react instantly out of joy or anger instead of successfully understanding what is mentioned. Of course, another problem would be the sender of a message truly responding in a ‘fit of emotion’, usually in opposition in rage, or making a logically sound opinion.

Turkle’s second point was the change in everyday conversations. In the seminar, there was this so called “rule of three (Turkle).” This rule basically was a theory that in a group of six, there should be at least three heads looking up at each other to prevent everyone from looking at their phones which leads to conversations which are not as serious and often disregarded as unimportant. I cannot agree with this idea because although it could apply to others I think that this “rule” could have already existed well before without technology and some does not explain how it causes conversations to become trivial like. In her recent chapter, one of the stories involves Chelsea and her father at dinner and in this scenario, Turkle shows the father using the phone to answer a question to a point where Chelsea says “Daddy, stop googling.” (Family 104). In my opinion I understand the annoyance that Chelsea felt after being away and the first thing she looks forward to is ruined by tendency to look something trivial up. This fact is what I think to be the effect of using technology to a point where it is changing conversations which in this case was a simple traditional dinner.

The last observation was in the workplace. One example she mentioned was a CEO figure asking his receptionist to help him by having his, “email disabled, phone taken away except allow family emergencies and he felt disconnection anxiety and could not concentrate on his task (Turkle).” I can agree that technology has created a new habit of distraction or loss of focus in a greater amount compared to years ago. This downside as a result proves her point that the connection between each and every person has been strained where it has been disconnected.

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