|Image borrowed from cartoonstock.com|
Dear Ms. Turkel
Where your book, “Alone Together” makes arguments that are not fully explored, Baym’s book “Personal Connections in the Digital Age” investigates various outcomes of the effects of new technology on society. You insist that we are alone in our online persona's. I think there is more to explore about how recent technology has influenced humankind then just to assume that this substitution of human interaction is all negative. In your book you give an example of how knocking on a door is seen by some as “intrusive” and texting is a better way of letting someone know of your presence. While this may be a legitimate story, in my opinion it is not an accurate reflection of how the majority of people feel about technology. Although new media has undoubtedly changed human relationships, there are benefits to globalization that are discussed in Baym’s book. For example, keeping in touch has become easier. Marketing one’s self is more possible. However, I definitely agree that self-identity has been affected. As Baym says in her book, “We may physically be present in one space, yet mentally and emotionally engaged elsewhere.” Both your book and Baym’s question whether there is such a thing as the “true” self anymore. I would argue that historically every society questions the “self” and that question is just a part of life. For example, in the romantic era people searched for their true one identity. Technology has allowed us to create numerous identities and to alter our social cues to become as desirable as possible. Who is to say that there exists one true way to present one’s self. Technology gives people the option to explore how they can transform. Change over time matches our need for alterations, we are adapting to the luxuries of new technology, because we are becoming more productive as a species. Instead of becoming scared of the ways that everything is changing, society needs to explore and embrace the potentials of new media. In Baym’s book the idea that adults fear children because of they are technologically inclined is mentioned. This causes a disconnect between the two generations and it has also led to lack of regulation of children, which has led to inappropriate online behavior. Instead of fearing new media, Parents and all members of society, for that matter, need to explore the possibilities it offers. As Baym says, “We should always be wary of simple explanations.” New technologies are neither good nor bad, so instead of fearing their effects on our lives like your book instills, we need to explore the effects.