Sherry Turkle Questions Our Love Affair with Technology


It turns out that we’re not the only ones talking about MIT psychologist Sherry Turkle, our Symposium keynote speaker. Her new book, Alone Together, an insightful look at our shifting relationship with technology, has gotten a lot of press recently, earning glowing reviews from both Newsweek and Time.

Have you ever text messaged someone who’s in the same room or e-mailed people in your office rather talking face-to-face? While our beloved new gadgets make our lives more efficient—and entertaining—are they actually separating us, instead of connecting us? Turkle says they are. This week, she appeared on the Colbert Report to discuss it.

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Check out this video, in which Stephen Colbert interrogates Turkle about why, exactly, it’s so important to give each other our full attention.

Although Turkle was a little taken aback by Colbert’s antics—he actually pulled out his phone and started texting!—she kept up a hilarious repartee.

Turkle’s journey from a child who considered TV to be the “family hearth” to a respected researcher who’s studied the psychological effects of technology since the Internet was still just an idea is also captured in a recent interview with Networker Editor Rich Simon. In “Cyberspaced,” she says that therapists—one of the last proponents of face-to-face conversation—have a significant role to play in mediating technology’s impact.

“My message to therapists is that technology raises all kinds of complicated issues, both in the consulting room and outside it,” Turkle tells Simon. “And before we go much further down the road we’re traveling, let’s think through what those issues are and what we want to do about them.”

If you’re interested in hearing more, Sherry Turkle will be the Friday morning keynote speaker at the 2011 Symposium, so be sure to check it out!

What do you think—does technology connect or disconnect us? Is it important to have in-person conversations in therapy sessions, or could alternatives, like Skype sessions, work just as well?

01.21.2011   Posted In: NETWORKER EXCHANGE   By Jordan Magaziner
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  • 0 avatar joy clarke 10.28.2011 04:31
    I appreciate the early start Ms Turkle took on looking at the human side of our exploding technological love affair. Her work has helped me clearly from two angles: 1, using techno- connections with clients I needed to think through boundaries and professionalism; 2, living quietly in the country and connecting virtually across many spheres, her work helps me manage my own boundaries, relationships, personal thought and processing, and to live in the virtual and physical world with reflection and consciousness. When I get it right!
  • Not available avatar Steve Levinson, Ph.D. 11.01.2011 15:05
    A clinical psychologist, I'm interested in the role that technology can play in helping people make desired changes in their own behavior and habits. I invented a simple electronic device called the MotivAider (http://habitchange.com) that's designed to keep its user's attention focused on virtually any behavioral objective. I also recently developed an Android phone app that replicates the MotivAider's functionality (https://market.android.com/details?id=com.MotivAider). Both may prove to be helpful tools for psychotherapists who would like to tangibly extend their therapeutic influence beyond the therapy visit.
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