Whatever happened to…verbal communication

I can admit it: I am an obstinate late adopter of new technology. No, it’s not about the cost. Nor is it that I don’t see the value in new technology. I simply prefer to drag my ‘adaptation’ heels until the newest and brightest complete the death match for the number one spot. (This saves me the time of attempting to learn a new piece of software or a device that will soon become obsolete just after I’ve mastered it.) This lull in adapting provides the opportunity for me to return to the world of human interaction.

Well, imagine my surprise upon my return when I found no humans remaining with whom to interact! It seems everyone has retreated into the digital world, full of texting, tweeting, and Facebook updates. Alright, there are humans around but I can’t be sure… My only view of them is the tops of their heads as they are far too busy looking into their smart phones, laptops, and tablets to avoid a major accident, much less interact with fellow humans.

Sherry Turkle, MIT professor, author, TED conference speaker, (and my current obsession) calls this the ‘flight from conversation’. (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/opinion/sunday/the-flight-from-conversation.html?pagewanted=all). If you are familiar with Dr. Turkle, you know her primary field of interest is human/technology interaction, in particular, how these two elements affect one another. Her newest book, Alone Together, presents a particularly intriguing theory regarding technology. While we may use smartphones, laptops, and tablets to stay connected and update others on the current happenings in our lives, this type of use drastically changes us. We are attempting to control our interactions with others in the way we control the devices we use; we treat our real life as we would our virtual life – limiting access for ourselves and others to what we feel is essential.

Now, yes, I realize the ultimate irony is utilizing a device to warn others away from overuse of technological devices, but the belief is sound: we should spend more time utilizing our devices as the tools they were meant to be. They should assist us in our connections with others, not be our soul connection with others. I urge everyone reading this (myself included) to get out and speak and interact more with others. We learn far more about each other than what is listed next to ‘relationship status’.

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