Tuesday, January 31, 2012
I couldn't agree more with the statement you referenced in Chapter 1 by Kenneth Gergen that "describes us as struggling with the 'challenge of absent presence,' worrying that too often we inhabit a 'floating world' in which we engage primarily with non-present partners despite the presence of flesh-and-blood people in our physical location" (3). Basically, because of the technologically dependent society we live in, there is a fear that even the physical presence of a person may only be physical but not mental. The best example of this is the AT&T commercial I posted below. I find it completely hilarious, but in a lot of ways this is a scenario that has happened in reality on many occasions. All these advancements are making it easier for people to immerse themselves into different places, and also making it difficult for one person to keep the other's attention. With a culture that is constantly multitasking, I think we've become even more ADD than before.
Monday, January 30, 2012
Dear Ms. Turkle,
I found your piece, “Alone Together” to be particularly interesting, and quite an engaging read. Being that we’re immersed in a society that’s so heavily reliant on technology, in just about every aspect of daily happenings, we as members of society can relate to your examples. You wrote that your book talks about “how we are changed as technology offers us substitutes for connecting with each other face-to-face,” and I can say that this is a statement I certainly agree with.
I personally feel that technology is hindering both intelligence and relationships. It used to be much simpler for one person to express to another their feelings over the phone or in person. Now with a text message or instant message online, they can just be brief and not express everything that they meant to say, or worse, what they meant to say could be misinterpreted as their message is lacking in fundamentals components of communication, like body language and tone. People also tend to use smaller or abbreviated words while texting, making them forget and not make use of stronger vocabulary. You write that online connections were established for times when face-to-face connections were impractical, but now the new mediums have instead become the norm.
You mention the man who won’t let his Blackberry out of his hand, and when he does, puts it in his pocket so it can be reached for right after, and the girl who will text her roommate who’s just in the next room. Just look at the word ‘Droid,’ it literally means “Robot.” It may seem like these people are hooked on their technologies; but essentially, it’s what we’ve become accustomed to.
You say that “relationships with robots are ramping up and relationships with people are ramping down,” which I’ve noticed has increasingly become a trend. As you point out, some may argue that robots are not as demanding as humans and can be there to comfort without being judgmental. It’s a shame that humans have come to rely on getting physical and emotional pleasure from these artificial technologies, rather than put in the effort to form relationships with real people who can reciprocate feelings, which can be a much deeper, meaningful, and real connection.
Dear Ms. Turkle,
The chapter Alone Together in your book was a very interesting read. You brought up many points about the future with technology that I have never considered possible. The extent to which robots are becoming part of our day to day interactions surprises me. I never imagined the debate of one marrying a robot or becoming romantically involved being a topic of discussion. Levy argues “that robots will teach us to be better friends and lovers because we will be able to practice on them” but isn’t this what our teenage years are for. Throughout our pre-adult lives, we learn the norms of friendship and relationships. We practice with other children and learn and grow from our mistakes. Many times the people you go to high school with, with the exception of a few close friends, mean nothing a few years after you graduate. When robots do not judge and respond negatively, are we necessarily going to learn anything from them?
The example to Miriam and her therapeutic robot Paro was quite interesting to me. I never knew the extent to which actual robots are being used. The robot was pretty much a talking animal. It possessed all of the qualities that a “mans best friend” had but in an easier way. You do not have to clean up after the robot, feed it or give it constant love if you do not desire to. Do we expect to much from our real life companions? Are we becoming to lazy to take the time to develop a relationship with a real animal or people? You stated that Miriam experienced intimacy with her robot but she was in fact alone. I believe this is very true for a number of reasons. The robots can serve as a companion and be programmed to simulate love but this is not real life love. I believe we are becoming to lazy to sustain and build relationships. Real life people/relationships can be exhausting and judgmental. Robots seem to be a simple solution to human’s laziness or social inabilities. This is reiterated with the creation of avatars on second life. Ones avatar can be younger, prettier, thinner, possess better clothes than the actual person.
I believe part of the use of robots is also due to the push of corporations to use robots whenever possible. For example I currently am a Bank of America account holder and avoid a monthly fee but only using the ATM machine to deposited checks/money and withdraw cash. Nursing homes like the one Miriam is in uses these animal robots to supplement the companionship nurses may have once provided. Is this shift to robots purely an extension of human laziness or something else?
Robots have also become apart of our daily lives in other ways. I never though of my smart phone as a robot but after reading this chapter, I definitely see that it is one. Being constantly connected to the world is a norm now. I know I feel disconnected, as the other people you interviewed, when I am without my cell phone. Social media also provides this sense of connectedness. Using facebook, I can look at friends and family members profile that I do not necessarily interact with on a month-to-month basis. One thing that I did not really take into account is that people design these profiles with the intent that others will be judging them accordingly. People are not going to publically display everything that is going on in their lives on facebook, so looking at profiles may not be a efficient mean to ensuring people are doing well.
Dear Ms. Sherry Turkle,
I find that your analyzation of people to be correct to a point. I myself would rather text someone than call him/her. I agree that humans are lonely but fearful of intimacy (or rejection). I agree that sociable robots give the illusion of companionship, but I disagree in that digital connections are the same. You can make friends via digital means and they provide companionship, but they also come with the same demands of a friendship that come from a friendship you made normally in real life. In the case of Ellen and her grandmother, I don’t feel that all people are like that. If she gave the skype calls her full attention instead of using it to also do another task on the side, I don’t think she would feel guilty and it would be as good as if the person was really there. I think that if you heard the story from her grandmother’s side, the grandmother would be thrilled and say that it was just as good.
I thought it was funny that your daughter would suggest that they replace the Galapagos tortoises with robots. I agree with how you pointed out that aesthetic inconvenience that the living tortoise had and people’s opinions toward them. Most animals to satisfy people it seems, would have to be more active and fit into what people believe how they should act.
Thanks for writing your article and thanks for taking the time to read this letter.
|Image borrowed from cartoonstock.com|
Your article "Alone Together" was sad because it revealed the truth of what is going on in society today. People are constantly on their cell phones or social networking sites to keep in touch and you rarely see people meeting others or getting to know each other in person. People typically text or call each other to get to know each other, and when their cell phones aren't ringing off the hook to notifications of text messages, they feel a sense of loneliness that no one cares about them.
It's funny how your introduction talks about Second Life and Zhu Zhu pets. I'm taking a class right now in college and we were required to make an avatar for Second Life. When we were asked to edit our appearance/image there were so many different options starting from head to toe. I was given the opportunity to make myself look absolutely flawless due to all the different face and body features that were able to be altered. I had no idea that a head shape had five different kinds of options to choose such as make the head more round or squished or making the head have a bump on the top or a bigger chin. The list can go on and I found it funny how you said that people make themselves look younger, skinnier, and prettier. No one is perfect and Second Life gives everyone a chance to make themselves look perfect.