Monday, January 30, 2012

New types of friends?

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.

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