This will be another book to look out for – ” Alone Together -Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other”
Sherry Turkle, the MIT professor who’s written it, articulates beautifully some of my thoughts about the potential effects on us, on the next generation and on our relationship with the next generation of the all-pervasiveness of virtual forms of communication. Some gems from this interview here with the author –
“..if you don’t learn how to be alone, you’ll always be lonely, that loneliness is failed solitude… ”
“…capacity for generative solitude is very important for the creative process, but if you grow up thinking it’s your right and due to be tweeted and retweeted, to have thumbs up on Facebook…we’re losing a capacity for autonomy both intellectual and emotional.”
“I think it’s an interesting notion that sharing becomes part of actually having the thought. It’s not “I think therefore I am,” it’s, “I share therefore I am.” Sharing as you’re thinking opens you up to whether the group likes what you’re thinking as becoming a very big factor in whether or not you think you’re thinking well. ”
“you start to notice that people ask you questions expecting a quick answer, and you start to ask questions that you can give a quick answer to. The questions can get dumbed down so that the answers will be quick. ”
This last resonated with me especially because I think I notice more and more that people seem less willing these days to engage in discussion for longer than is necessary to skim the surface; so instead of real conversations, one ends up making small talk on most subjects without really exploring or thinking anything through together in any depth.
The decimation of attention spans that began with channel-surfing with the television’s remote control has continued inexorably with mobile phones, always-on e-mail, smartphones – how I hate them with their zillion apps without which life seems impossible (whatever happened to spontaneous discovery, without needing an app to guide us to the nearest restaurant serving our favorite cuisine?) – Twitter and Facebook. And communicating in SMS-ese – even when it’s not SMS- appears to be quite acceptable and anything longer than the 140-character Twitter message seems to be, for many people, a ponderous essay that they can only bring themselves to skim through.
I could go on and might end by saying “O Tempora, O Mores !” , a la Cicero.
Or, more usefully, maybe I should finally try to figure out how to use Twitter especially for professional purposes.
As the author’s says about the iPhone, “It’s a precious technology, when used in accordance with your social, professional, and personal values.”
And I do agree with that bit too.