Turkle on loss of intimacy

Sherry Turtle was in London last week speaking at the LSE on one of the topics of her new book: Alone Together. Why we expect more from technology and less from each other. Turtle has moved from being the techno –enthusiast of her earlier books: Life on the Screen and The Second Self, to being someone worried that technology is now feeding off, and encouraging, our vulnerabilities.  Turkle makes a clear distinction between ‘virtual’ and ‘real’ life, and prioritises the latter. The virtual, Turkle argues, should enhance the real rather than replace or diminish it.  Reviewing her earlier books she said that she had expected that the technology would provide a ‘laboratory’ for us to experiment with our ‘selves’ and develop and extend our human capacities. But what has happened instead is that we now rely on computer technologies to avoid difficult/complex human interactions.  Because we rely on technology we are not learning these difficult human social skills.  In some cases we are forgetting what we once knew.  Both she and the audience reported problems with parents who were retreating from their (sometimes adult) children, never being totally present – always online engaged elsewhere.  She argues that what technologies offer us is connection but what we really want is intimacy.  Turtle has gone back to her roots as a psychologist – a psychologist of ‘computation’ who prioritises the psyche rather than the computer.

About Gill Kirkup

I have worked most of my life as an academic engaged in a combination of teaching, research and scholarship. A strong theme over the years has been a critical engagement with the gendering of technologies and the technologies of gender and identity. This blog is a place where I can reflect on all of these - sometimes in a scholarly way -but not always.
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