Depiction of Technological Progress in Alone Together Book
Alone Together Research Essay
In today’s world technology plays a very important aspect of people’s day to day lives. It allows work to be done over the computer, flexible school schedule, and many more great activities. However, it can also have many negative aspects. In alone together the author Sherry Turkle describes technology as the plans of our relationships. She also describes how in the online world you can build a life that we all dream of and hope of having one day. She says, “Finally, a place to love your body, love your friends, and love your life” (Turkle 1). I find it ironic how she states the perfect life can only be created online. Life is tough, however great things can be achieved through knowledge. Has social media made us more social? Or has it made us alone together? Technology allows us to make connections with friends and family, work more efficiently. Technology is in a sense taken to a higher level where it’s become more than just face to face interactions. While Turkle uncovers to us some clear and basic issues with how we relate to the development of new technology, I believe some of her points are existent and are happening all around us. Research and data prove how online confession sites exist, how online life draws us away from our responsibilities, being online promotes a sense of fear, and that people prefer to text over talking.
The first point Turkle makes is that websites where people can go online to anonymously confess problems whether they are real or not in fact exists. However, a lot of the responses can be useful and have some meaning, while other times they are very cruel. A majority of the posts admitted are stunning, which is most likely why they are admitted on an anonymous site. “We cannot blame technology for this state of affairs. It is people who are disappointing each other. Technology merely enables us to create a mythology in which this does not matter” (Turkle 237). Turkle describes the evolutionary technology as leaving us vulnerable. I agree with Turkle here because it is the anonymous world of the internet that allows bullying to take place with no repercussions. I find it very interesting and curios to see why people share their stories in confession sites and ultimately sharing to someone we don’t know. Research shows it’s easier to be mean when you don’t have to say something to a person’s face. It’s hard for some people to vent their problems in person. In the article Why is everyone so angry on the internet it states how interacting on peoples comments lead to a feeling of accomplishment. “Unfortunately, mainstream media have made a fortune teaching people the wrong ways to talk to each other, offering up Jerry Springer, Crossfire, Bill O’Reilly. People understandably conclude rage is the political vernacular, that this is how public ideas are talked about” (Wasserman). This quote shows how there are media outlets that do not provide a higher standard of moral values. It seems like most of the programs are degrading everyone. “If on a website comments are left up that are making personal attacks in the nastiest way, you’re sending the message that this is acceptable human behavior.” It is now believed that insulting a person’s beliefs or actions is the correct behavior in our society. People tend to follow what others are doing, which leads to a community of outrage. Communication is about taking someone’s point of view, grasping there point and answering. Data and examples prove that confession sites are abundant and degrading.
The second point that Turkle argues is that online life is allows people to feel better about themselves than their real lives, by creating a false image. Consequently, they don’t realize that an online life can draw them away from their real life responsibilities. He also states that there is an addiction to the online world. According to turkle connecting with people becomes a craving, when we receive a text our central nervous systems respond by giving us a shot of dopamine.
Turkle uses the example of a gambler, who expresses that “To escape, gamblers flee to a machine zone where the goal is not to win but to be. Gambling addicts simply want to stay in the game, comfortable in a pattern where other things are shut out […] The gambler and video game player share a life of contradiction: you are overwhelmed, and so you disappear into the game” (Turkle 227). I tend to agree with Turkle because we go through negative life consequences such as job loss, family problems, financial issues, and many more. Most of the times we look for escape routes that diminish our problems. I look at it very similar to a drug addict who escapes reality by getting loaded day after day leading to addiction. For example Facebook users had lower Grade Point Averages and spent less time studying than students who did not use these social networking sites. “Of the 26% of students reporting an impact of their usage on their lives, three-quarters (74%) claimed that it had a negative impact, namely procrastination, distraction, and poor time-management” (Griffiths). The findings support the idea that Social networking sites are used by some people in order to cope with negative life events. The addiction side is proved by 24 year old women who used Facebook constantly for at least five hours a day and was fired from her job because she continuously checked her social media sites instead of working. It states that even during her interview, she used her mobile phone to access Facebook. However, there is a lot of evidence provided by researchers and interviews, which prove the claim that Turkle addresses of online lives can make us forget our priorities and allow addictions to occur a valid fact.
Turkle last point states that our generation today, especially the younger people who have grown up with mostly screen-based communication prefer texting over actual talking. Technolgoy is a great way to keep interactive with friends and family all around the globe. Turkle states that technology was once a way to ask a question or just too simply stay in touch. However, it has taken to another level where there are platforms such as email, texting, and instant messaging that change the way we communicate. Audrey who is sixteen, states “the phone, it’s awkward, I don’t see the point. Too much just a recap and sharing feelings. With a text… I can answer on my own time. I can respond. I can ignore it. So it really works with my mood. I’m not bound to anything. No commitment… I have control over the conversation and also more control over what I say” (Turkle 190). This quote shows the pressure people worry about when talking on the phone. This is because there’s more time to react to a text messages and plan out what you are going to say rather than being on the spot when talking. We as human beings, desire to relate to others. Cell phones play a big part in fulfilling our needs. For example whether you are dating someone or just meeting someone for the first time, there is a special feeling about face-to-face interactions. You can hear the tone in their voice change, see their facial expressions changed, and you can look them in the eye to see if you trust them. Based on the study they found that pleasure was a contributing factor to texting. Participants appeared to enjoyed texting as a means of escape from something distressful, such as talking where more you feel more pressure. The average frequency with which participants used voice calls was about 13 times and text messaging was about 82 times in a day. The study shows that text messaging seems to be a more prevalent choice to kids based on pressure motives. “Among those motives, affection, inclusion, and escape were relatively stronger motives than the others for both calling and texting, which suggests that people communicate through cell phones to exchange feelings of caring and connection” (Borae). The end goal most of us look for is for people that we can connect with. Based off the research the facts prove that turkles views on texting over talking are valid.
For the most part we can all agree on the impact social media has everyone’s day to day lives whether positive or negative. To prove this Turkle offers many different examples of the negative impacts different technologies seem to have on an individual’s life. She also uses many metaphors that describe technology as the way of our lives. She depicts how in the online world you can assemble an existence that we all fantasy of and any desire for having one day. She says, I think that its unexpected how she expresses the ideal life must be made on the web. Life is intense; however incredible things can be accomplished through information. Has online networking made us more social? Then again has it made only us together? Technology allows us to keep in contact with loved ones, and work more effectively. Technology is said to be taken to a larger amount where it’s turned out to be more than simply eye to eye conversations. We can see that Turkle implies that it is not that good to become tethered to the virtual world by providing us examples that indicate negative effects on people. I tend to agree with her in not allowing yourself to become a slave to technology. Though we may agree with the answers we hear, the fact is that technology is advancing, regardless of our opinions about those developments. “If you can’t find a good job, you can reimagine yourself as successful in the virtual. You can escape a depressing apartment to entertain guests in a simulated mansion” (Turkle 219). It’s hard to imagine that the virtual world holds so much power on you. It’s almost as people need it to escape reality, consequently it is proved to have many negative outcomes.
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