Sherry Turkle

Sherry
Turkle
1948

American Educator and Cultural Analyst, Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Author Quotes

The work of neuroscientist Antonio Damasio offers insight into the origins of this guilt. Damasio describes two levels of experiencing pain. The first is a physical response to a painful stimulus. The second, a far more complex reaction, is an emotion associated with pain. This is an internal representation of the physical.

We are changed as technology offers us substitutes for connecting with each other face-to-face. We are offered robots and a whole world of machine-mediated relationships on networked devices. As we instant-message, e-mail, text, and Twitter, technology redraws the boundaries between intimacy and solitude. We talk of getting ?rid? of our e-mails, as though these notes are so much excess baggage. Teenagers avoid making telephone calls, fearful that they ?reveal too much.? They would rather text than talk. Adults, too, choose keyboards over the human voice. It is more efficient, they say. Things that happen in ?real time? take too much time. Tethered to technology, we are shaken when that world ?unplugged? does not signify, does not satisfy. After an evening of avatar-to avatar talk in a networked game, we feel, at one moment, in possession of a full social life and, in the next, curiously isolated, in tenuous complicity with strangers. We build a following on Facebook or MySpace and wonder to what degree our followers are friends. We recreate ourselves as online personae and give ourselves new bodies, homes, jobs, and romances. Yet, suddenly, in the half-light of virtual community, we may feel utterly alone. As we distribute ourselves, we may abandon ourselves. Sometimes people experience no sense of having communicated after hours of connection. And they report feelings of closeness when they are paying little attention. In all of this, there is a nagging question: Does virtual intimacy degrade our experience of the other kind and, indeed, of all encounters, of any kind?

When technology engineers intimacy, relationships can be reduced to mere connections.

There are moments of opportunity for families; moments they need to put technology away. These include: no phones or texting during meals. No phones or texting when parents pick up children at school - a child is looking to make eye contact with a parent!

We are inhibited from aggression by the presence of another face, another person. We're aware that we're with a human being. On the Internet, we are disinhibited from taking into full account that we are in the presence of another human being.

When Thoreau considered where I live and what I live for, he tied together location and values. Where we live doesn't just change how we live; it informs who we become. Most recently, technology promises us lives on the screen. What values, Thoreau would ask, follow from this new location? Immersed in simulation, where do we live, and what do we live for?

These communication technologies compete with ?the world around us? in a zero-sum game for our attention.

We are psychologically programmed not only to nurture what we love but to love what we nurture.

Wilson?s way of keeping in mind the dual aspects of the Furby?s nature seems to me a philosophical version of multitasking, so central to our twentieth-century attentional ecology. His attitude is pragmatic. If something that seems to have a self is before him, he deals with the aspect of self he finds most relevant to the context.

These days, insecure in our relationships and anxious about intimacy, we look to technology for ways to be in relationships and protect ourselves from them at the same time.

We are shaped by our tools.

Zane, six, knows that AIBO doesn?t have a real brain and heart, but they are real enough. AIBO is kind of alive because it can function as if it had a brain and heart.

From watching children play with objects designed as amusements, we come to a new place, a place of cold comforts. Child and adult, we imagine made to measure companions. Or, at least we imagine companions who are always interested in us.

In this dismissal of origins we see the new pragmatism.

Technology proposes itself as the architect of our intimacies.

Hold on to your passion - you'll need it!

It is painful to watch children trying to show off for parents who are engrossed in their cell phones. Children are nostalgic for the 'good old days' when parents used to read to them without the cell phone by their side or watch football games or Disney movies without having the BlackBerry handy.

Teenagers talk about the idea of having each other's 'full attention.' They grew up in a culture of distraction. They remember their parents were on cell phones when they were pushed on swings as toddlers. Now, their parents text at the dinner table and don't look up from their BlackBerry when they come for end-of-school day pickup.

Human relationships are rich and they're messy and they're demanding. And we clean them up with technology. Texting, email, posting, all of these things let us present the self as we want to be. We get to edit, and that means we get to delete, and that means we get to retouch, the face, the voice, the flesh, the body -- not too little, not too much, just right.

It used to be that people had a way of dealing with the world that was basically, 'I have a feeling, I want to make a call.' Now I would capture a way of dealing with the world, which is: 'I want to have a feeling, I need to send a text.'

Teenagers would rather text than talk. They feel calls would reveal too much.

I believe that in our culture of simulation, the notion of authenticity is for us what sex was for the Victorians?threat and obsession, taboo and fascination. I have lived with this idea for many years; yet, at the museum, I found the children?s position strangely unsettling. For them, in this context, aliveness seemed to have no intrinsic value. Rather, it is useful only if needed for a specific purpose. Darwin?s endless forms so beautiful were no longer sufficient unto themselves.

It used to be that we imagined that our mobile phones would be for us to talk to each other. Now, our mobile phones are there to talk to us.

Texting offers just the right amount of access, just the right amount of control. She is a modern Goldilocks: for her, texting puts people not too close, not too far, but at just the right distance. The world is now full of modern Goldilockses, people who take comfort in being in touch with a lot of people whom they also keep at bay.

I love sharing photographs and websites, I'm for all of these things. I'm for Facebook. But to say that this is sociability? We begin to define things in terms of what technology enables and technology allows.

Author Picture
First Name
Sherry
Last Name
Turkle
Birth Date
1948
Bio

American Educator and Cultural Analyst, Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology