Slave to Connection That nagging urge we have to constantly check our computer, phone, I-pad, whatever technological device we have in our possession is due to our need to connect. Sherry Turtle, in her article “The Flight From Conversation”, makes the following observation on this issue: “We expect more from technology and less from one another”. The increased emphasis on connection rather than conversation has caused a sense of dependency on the technology that connects us. In the words of Turtle, “l share, therefore I am”, portrays that we have become reliant on technology to define who we re.
So, do I not exist if I do not share? In no way is this true but this is what we believe. I think of it as a virtual life; when we create a profile, that is considered our birth, and as we continue to share, that is how we keep on living in this virtual world. I created a Backbone profile much later than many of my friends who had profiles since Backbone was created. Many of them were shocked when I said I did not have a profile. I received many comments in the form of “How could you not I have a Backbone account? The way they reacted one would think I was missing an arm or an ye; some vital part of my being that I could not exist without. Furthermore, we share because we know we have an audience. Turtle refers to this audience as “automatic listeners,” who we depend on to nourish our need for companionship. This also extends from our fear of being alone. I know if I post something, at least one person would like, share, “rewet” or comment on it, which gives me a sense of assurance that someone is listening.
However, these “automatic listeners” are not always our friends and by simply connecting we expose ourselves to negative influences. I have en countless instances of “trolling” which is the act of intentionally making remarks on the internet to incite anger or frustration. For this reason, everything I do is not posted on a social network. However, for some persons this is all they have in terms of “someone” to talk to. This has led to a whole knew array of issues for example cyber-bullying, which did not exist before connection via technology.
Although some of these issues are not new, technology has provided a more effective way to inflict harm that is quite scary to me. Furthermore, technology plays an important role in maintaining communication in relationships, however, the problem arises when simply connecting becomes the only method of keeping in contact with one another. Sherry Turtle refers to these as “sips” and correctly states, “Connecting in sips doesn’t work as well when it comes to understanding and knowing one another”.
When it comes to relationships, making time for meaningful conversation is high on my list of priorities because what was practiced by my family. Every weekend my family and I would have Sunday lunch, which was, a technology free zone. We would get lost in inversion as we relived events that happened during our week prior. Yes, we would connect in “sips” from time to time but when it came to important matters, things that required a more personal connection, we would turn off our phones, take our headphones from our ears and Just listen to each other.
Furthermore, Turtle says “Human relationships are rich; they’re messy and demanding”, they are also of technology has caused some of the emotion to be lost along way because we “dumb down” (Turtle) many of the important things in an effort to save time. One of the most important sentences in the human repertoire is “l love you. Sadly, this meaningful sentence has not only lost some of its letters but also some of its value when used to connect. “l love you” has gone from “l Luvs U” to simply “IL V.
When someone tells me “l miss you”, I appreciate that more than when I receive a message that says “MIM”. To me it shows more effort is being made to converse rather to simple connect. “As we ramp up the volume and velocity of online connections, we start to expect faster answers” (Turtle). In order live up to this expectation stated by Sherry Turtle, programs have been created to make it easier to provide quick responses. These technological programs increase efficiency and makes life easier.
One of these programs is “Auto-correct” which is very useful because it corrects my work as I type. However, over the years, I have found myself making “silly’ grammatical and spelling errors in traditional writing. My brain no longer feels the need remember how to do certain things because the technology is there to do it for me. I had a reality check when I had to ask “Sir” to spell “necessary’ for me. We no longer need to know certain basic skills because technology does it for us but lack of practice has caused us to lose these skills.
There are countless examples of how technology has become important in many aspects of our lives; especially to connect us with each other. However, total reliance on this technology has negatively impacted us. It is ironic that through connection and technology we aim to control our lives but in actuality we are shackled. It doesn’t matter how we view ourselves anymore but rather how we think and want others to perceive us. This is why many of us have lost ourselves and cannot be alone because we don’t know who we are anymore. Technology “can change not only what we do, but also who we are. ” (Turtle).