Because I had some work to catch up on last night, I chose to stay home and watch the Golden Globes alone. But I didn’t feel alone at all. With my computer in my lap, the Twitter app running and Facebook in my browser window, it felt like I was at a watch party among friends. I laughed at some posts, rolled my eyes at others and commented on many. Is the fact that technology can replace the feeling of camaraderie that comes with personal, face-to-face interactions good for our society or bad? Probably neither and both.
“The advantage to all that gadgetry, of course, is connectedness: email lets us respond on the go, and we are in touch with more people during more hours of the day than at any other time in history. But is it possible we’re more lonely than ever, too? That’s what MIT professor Sherry Turkle observes in her new book, Alone Together, a fascinating portrait of our changing relationship with technology. The result of nearly 15 years of study (and interviews with hundreds of subjects), Turkle details the ways technology has redefined our perceptions of intimacy and solitude—and warns of the perils of embracing such pseudo-techno relationships in place of lasting emotional connections.”
The “alone” versus “together” situation works in reverse as well: when we are face-to-face among a group of people, many of us isolate ourselves by bowing our heads to the mobile devices actively lighting up in our hands. If you don’t believe me, next time you go out to dinner, do a quick scan around the restaurant and check out what people are doing at each table.
The impact of technology on social mores is not a new topic of conversation, but as technology and social channels continue to improve and become even more integrated into our lives, the conversation will grow. But will anything change? Will we pull back on the use of technology and social media now that it is ingrained in our behaviors?
Check out the novel Super Sad True Love Story for a satirical look at the possibility of completely transparent sharing through technology and utter dependency on technology. It is funny and sad and scary. Set in a future where people are obsessed with appearances, their smart phones and credit scores, this book tells the story of two mismatched lovers through their journal entries and online communications.