Who is controlling who? Sherry Turkle Alone Together. Following on from my last article ‘Will Mobile Social Media Change How we do Church?’ I discovered an interesting TED talk by Sherry Turkle on ‘Connected, but alone?’ Sherry is a psychologist and sociologist who has been studying how technology changes not only what we do but who we are?
In 1995 Sherry wrote a book called ‘Life on the Screen’ which was about identity in the age of the Internet. In her book Turkle examined how the Internet provided new possibilities for exploring identity. Eighteen years later Turkle is back with a new book called ‘Alone Together’ which explores why we expect more from technology and less from each other.
If you are interested in how social media is changing society then you will
find this video fascinating. Reaching nearly a million people through this film alone, Turkle talks about the idea that social media allows us to control who and what gets our attention. How we love the idea that we are in control, which takes the concept of a consumer generation that I mentioned in my last article a step further. Turkle explores our apparent need to be heard – ‘I share therefore I am’, and how that these days the absence of social media makes being alone feel like it’s a problem rather than important time for reflection.
What stood out for me was Turkle’s suggestion that the art of face to face conversation is being eroded by social media, that we like being ‘Alone Together’. In my last article I entertained the notion that technology could draw people into face to face meetings using GPS, but then this conflicts with our preference to be able to control who we meet?
For Christians there is an important lesson to be learned here. If Turkle is right, and more and more of us are using social media to control who gets our attention, then will our ability to reach people depend on our ability to capture their attention through social media?
Who is controlling who, are we more in control of our lives through technology or are we inadvertently allowing technology to control us?
If you are interested in this subject see also an article that I wrote for Taberstruths: Fascinating Infographic: Exposes How We Use Social Media