Sherry Turkle: Lack of Intimacy and Connection in Social Media

June 22, 2022 by Essay Writer

In today’s world, social media comes with many perks like giving you the ability to reconnect with a long-lost friend, sharing photos with family members that may live far away, and you can even look for a job from any location. However are the advantages of social media that we hold so close to us really worth the price of what we are sacrificing and what we are losing as we give social media an important role in our life? So why do we seem to expect more from technology and less and less from each other? We also have to ask ourselves: how do we really feel about living a life that is so consumed with texts, calls, emails and social media that hardly any true human contact or connection is made. On social media, we can even start a “Second Life” by creating an online person that we can edit any way we would like, thus presenting to others the life and profile we want to present to the world instead of revealing who we may really be. Most of us hold the digital technologies we own close to our heart, feeling lost if we don’t have them close by us at all times. We rarely leave our home without our cellular phones, and our personal computers have become the center of our social, economic, and professional interactions. Because our devices are connected to the Internet, we can accomplish more and more daily tasks than ever before; we can wish our friends a “Happy Birthday” on Facebook while we grocery shop or we can sit in our living room and see what is going on in our friends’ lives without actually being there with them.

Furthermore, the line between the tasks we accomplish in our personal lives and those we undertake in public are starting to blur. For instance, fewer people are finding it a taboo to engage in a sensitive Facebook post while sitting with their partner on the bus; in the past, a person would only be talking and giving their attention to their partner. Thus, while our digital technologies are helping us “keep in touch” with each other, they are also changing the nature of our relationships, and this can make us feel farther apart from each other than in the past. Years ago people asked: “What will we use computers for?” Today the question is: “Is there anything we do not use technology for?” Through technology we create, navigate, and perform our emotional lives with only a click of a button. After reading the two articles: “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” and “The Great Forgiving”, I have begun to think about technology in a whole new light. It brought to my attention new questions, such as would we consider being alone and loneliness the same thing? In this case, loneliness is not a matter of external conditions but rather more of a psychological state which can cause neuroticism or anxiety over time. But when we are constantly using technology, we risk isolating ourselves from the real, external world; there is real life vs. online life, and living a good part of our life online can lead to the unprecedented alienation of individuals in today’s world. The need to constantly be online is a rapidly growing addiction and it is expected to soon surpass other addictive industries, such as the global coffee industry. The possible long term health concerns of this alienation and addictive behavior should be of concern to everyone.

The article “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” was written by Stephan Marches. The article speaks about how social media has taken over some people’s lives.

One of Marche’s main points is that technology has made everything so much more connected; with the click of a button one could find out what the weather is like today in France or how the economy is doing in China. Yet, while we have never had more access to one another and the world around us, we have never been more isolated.

Marche contributes this finding to the rise of social media, including Facebook. He believes that “the more connected we become, the lonelier we are.” Another point that Marche makes is that maybe we, as Americans, prefer to be alone. Ever since the Pilgrims journeyed to this land, cowboys have explored the Wild West, and astronauts have traveled into the infinite depths of space. Thus, it seems that Americans have always been willing to “pay [the] price” of loneliness in exchange for pride, self-respect, exploration, or whatever reason there may be. Marche suggests that perhaps the draw of being alone is just part of American culture; maybe nothing is “making us” lonely because we just decide to be alone.

Marche’s article also touches on how we can have thousands of friends on social media but still be all alone in our everyday life. One point Marche tried to prove the most is no matter how much someone is connected on the web, some people are still alone. He feels like social media is good at times but it’s mainly bad for many reasons. It’s bad because it consumes time and takes away the fun in verbal communication. The article also points out how Facebook as a social media site is just a bunch of fantasies that people use it to escape reality. In his opinion, we can be almost anybody online, but when it comes down to reality we can’t hide from it because we have to live our regular daily life. The article also discusses the disadvantages of having a conversation through technology instead of a face to face conversation. According to the article, people who spend their time on devices and social network sites are finding themselves lacking in the ability to communicate in person.

The old days of hanging out with friends and talking with other people face to face seems a thing of the past. People have begun to believe that they are able to change their lives through the Internet and they are able to do anything and be anyone, when, in fact, in the real world, they are an antisocial person who has learned absolutely nothing about himself or the world.

One of the last key things Marche discusses is whether or not the Internet makes us lonely, or if lonely people are attracted to the Internet. While Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or even Snapchat it seems that the more we are connected a user feels on their chosen social media site, in Marche’s opinion, in reality they are the most disconnected and isolated. Facebook and other social media sites are supposed to be a way to connect with family, friends, coworkers, and for networking. Marche states “when did social media turn into something completely opposite, a place where people have to hide the person they are in everyday life” Or are we creating fake profiles pages to hide behind the scenes of everyday life.

We have to ask ourselves: how do we really feel about living a life that is so consumed with text messages, phone calls, e-mails and Facebook messages but without any true human connection. Are we actually accustomed to it or are we actually tired of it, but not sure how to live a life without communicating through these devices? Because many people live in a world that is so fast-paced, and society never seems to stop and ‘take a breath’, the use of these devices is how they “deal with” other people and it becomes a way of life. Therefore, people seem to have less and less time for face-to-face interaction with others, while more and more of their interaction occurs behind a screen. We may not realize that we are losing important social skills. People wander on a thin line between the real world and the virtual world, not even realizing they are living between the two.

One of the last key things Marche discusses in his article was ‘whether or not the Internet makes us lonely” or “if lonely people are attracted to the Internet”.

While Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even Snapchat, it seems that the more we are connected, the less we are actually together. In Marche’s opinion” the reality is we are more disconnected and isolated than ever before”.

Facebook and other social media sites should be a way to stay connected with family, friends, coworkers, and for networking. Marche states “when did social media turn into something completely opposite, a place where people have to hide the person they are in everyday life” Or are we creating fake profiles pages to hide behind the scenes of everyday life.

We have to ask ourselves: how do we really feel about living a life that is so consumed with text messages, phone calls, e-mails and Facebook messages but without any true human connection. Are we actually accustomed to it or are we actually tired of it, but not sure how to live a life without communicating through these devices? Because many people live in a world that is so fast-paced, and society never seems to stop and ‘take a breath’, the use of these devices is how they “deal with” other people and it becomes a way of life. Therefore, people seem to have less and less time for face-to-face interaction with others, while more and more of their interaction occurs behind a screen. We may not realize that we are losing important social skills. People wander on a thin line between the real world and the virtual world, not even realizing they are living between the two.

Technology has even become the architect. While Online, we are faced with many temptations while we are also drawn by companionship without the demands of intimacy therefore we seems to be conducting “risk free” affairs on what is called the “Second Life,” yet it’s easy to confuse the scattershot postings on a Facebook wall with authentic communication between one another And now, we are promised “sociable robots” that will marry human companionship with convenience. Technology promises to let us do anything from anywhere, with anyone, at any time but it also draining us as and making us think that we do everything we want, everywhere we go. We are losing are communications stills while being on our devices that are just mesmerizing us. In a surprising twist, relentless connections can also lead to a new kind of solitude in everyday connection. We begin to feel overwhelmed and depleted by the lives technology makes possible for us however we are also prone to being lonely everywhere and anywhere we go. We have turned to our new technology to fill the void but while technology has gone up, our emotional lives have gone way down.

The title for this paper and why I chose it comes from author Sherry Turkle’s and her book “Alone Together”: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other.” In Chapter 8, the author states that people nowadays are all “cyborgs”. People feel they cannot live a moment without technological devices such as cell phones, tablets and laptops in their everyday lives; children don’t know what to do with themselves without video games or cell phones. When we don’t have devices within reach, we go ‘crazy’ and don’t know what to do with ourselves. We love how these devices are keeping us connected with others with just a click of a button yet we don’t realize how much it is destroying us on a personal level by the absence of true human connections.

For the book “Alone Together” the author Turkle has completed a nearly fifteen-year exploration of our lives and what the digital media and devices are effort within our lives. Based on interviews with hundreds of children and adults, Turkle describes new, unsettling relationships between friends, lovers, parents, and children, and the new instabilities in how we understand privacy and community, intimacy and solitude. It is a story of emotional dislocation and the risks taken although it is also a story of hope; Turkle reveals evidence from her own life also as she is uncomfortable with our growing dependence on technology and how we keep in touch with one another.

She has constant communication with her daughter who is overseas through Skype, text messages, and email. However, she longs for a personal letter, something that many people alive today have never even received. She also believes that things like personal letters can be saved and used to memorialize the moments of emotional exchange between a mother and a daughter. The story is a true eye opener about our relationship with technology and how it is affecting our everyday lives. To connect with those around us, she urges her readers to take simple steps like not allowing cellular phones at the dinner table, and encourages them to consider deeper issues, such as reclaiming our online privacy.

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