“I Share Therefore I am”: A Look at Communication Today

by Faith & Life, Love and Relationships, Self-Knowledge

As we expect more from technology, do we expect less from each other? Sherry Turkle studies how our devices and online personas are redefining human connection and communication — and asks us to think deeply about the new kinds of connection we want to have.” (Ted)

Turkle is a Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Last year she released a book called Alone Together. Some of the ideas there struck me as interesting (taken from a book review in NY Times):

– Instead of real friends, we “friend” strangers on Facebook. Instead of talking on the phone (never mind face to face), we text and tweet. Technology, she writes, “makes it easy to communicate when we wish and to disengage at will.”

Virtual communication gives us much more control over what we say and do. It becomes a “self-filter” that allows to me to edit, spell-check, and photoshop the image transmitted to others.

– One high school sophomore says telephone calls mean you have to have a conversation and conversations are “almost always too prying, it takes too long, and it is impossible to say ‘good-bye.’ ” Another student says: “When you talk on the phone, you don’t really think about what you’re saying as much as in a text. On the telephone, too much might show.”

And, well, there’s plenty more. The article is worth a read.

As I have said in other posts, the idea, here, isn’t to bash communication technology, rather improve it by applying faith-based criteria. The key lies in the value and dignity of each individual person. What are we saying of the other when we have equipped ourselves with an on-off switch for the conversation’s boring moments? Created for a reason, we all have the duty to be one person: ourselves. Looking to change our identity for our “share-ability”  or “like ability’s” sake is a quick road to superficiality and frustration. And, more importantly, what are we saying to our Creator if we perform a type of virtual surgery on ourselves with each text and post?  What’s to be loved of another fake image? There are trillions of those on Google.

Each person will have their vices with technology. Each one of us needs to examine our use of it, our strengths and weaknesses, and help others to do the same.

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