Jason Pook's Games Design Blog

CATS Log Book Entry 6- TED Talk- Sherry Turkle, Connected but alone?

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This is the second of the TED Talks that we was asked to write up upon for further research as part of our “Contextualising Digital Cultures” topic about the area of “Futures”.

Sherry opened with her daughter texting her “you will rock” and went on to say I am a person who loves getting texts I am part of the central paradox but I will go on to say too many texts are bad for you. 20years ago she did her first TED Talk and was going to be on the cover of wired magazine for her work.

Those devices in our pockets are so powerful they don’t only change what we do but they change who we are. some quick examples are texts during work, school, meetings etc. which is referring to how texting is taking us away from the social aspect of life, the importance of real life connection and eye contact is key to build us as a human being, we are setting ourselves up for trouble. I strongly agree with this as I hate the idea that if I for example said to my friends “want to go play football at the park” that they would reply with through text message or some form of communication “im ok, we can just go on fifa” this is taking away social interaction we as human beings believe we are still interacting but when really we are hiding behind some form of screen so we are alone, and that is removing us from an important aspect of life which is interaction with other people/ social skills.

We are alone but together as we are connected through social networks, contacts, messages etc. but you only want to pay attention to the bits that interest you as if  you are hiding from each other. Sherry calls it the “goldilocks effect” not too far, not too close, just right its controlled to their liking, its a problem for the younger generation as they don’t develop any communicative skills. She talked to a 18 year old boy who texts for nearly everything and he said to her “…someday, someday, but certainly not now, I would like to learn how to have a conversation…” which makes you think what? how have you not got them skills its a aspect of life, and the answer is edit and delete and perfect what we say though social communications, conversation is now connection. People think that all those tweets, texts, posts add up to one big communication but they don’t as they remove the understanding and the learning of conversation with others effects the conversations we have with ourselves. Its so vital for children to interact with others to avoid segregation but if you would rather “text than talk” it allows people to chose to ignore you and that no one could be listening behind the technology.

Socialable robots is the term she used, we are losing so much confidence we think that the computers care for us that’s why things like Facebook are so appealing to make us feel like we are being listened too when actually its removing us. Its pretend empathy.

We now expect more from technology and less from each other, as technology appeals to us best when we are vulnerable so it gives is an illusion of companionship as we are afraid of real life companionship and its problems whereas the computer seems to be the centre of a perfect storm as we never feel alone. “Being alone feels like a problem that needs to be solved” but connection is a symptom rather than a cure it shapes a new way of being to try make yourself understand you rather than feeling we connect to try bring a feeling causing isolation.

“All we will ever know is how to be lonely” as the lives on the screen isolate you rather than make you communicate. I do agree with her to some extent as yes the devices are used to connect to others to talk but that doesn’t mean that us as people are becoming purely connected through these devices, I know I myself would rather talk to someone than text as it breaks down the barriers and allows you to bond with another people to create a friendship or possibly more. But if we recognise our vulnerability to technology then we will truly see that the virtual worlds are not truly us the human life is us.

If technology is used properly it can lead us into the future and our dreams it can make this life “the life we love”.

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Author: Jason Pook 3D

Current student at Hull School of Art and Design studying Games Design.

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