Turkle opens her TED talk with a paradox. It’s the idea that people love texts but complain about texting. She mentions how her daughter was an innocent five-year-old when she was giving her first talk. Technology was still experimental for the most part. Today her daughter sleeps with a cell phone (relatable). While the thought of exploring technology still excites her, she believes that it is taking us places we shouldn’t go. Our cell phones may be small, but they are quite powerful. They change our identities. A few years ago we might have found some of our digital habits disturbing or odd. She provides the example of people texting during corporate business meetings. We are able to do things so discreetly. But why is there such an urgency? What is it about the digital world that is more compelling than the real world?
The concept of “being together while not being together” is seen everywhere these days. I will often sit in a classroom full of students waiting for the professor to arrive and everyone will sit on their phones rather than make conversation (which shouldn’t be too difficult since they are taking the same course and obviously share common interests). Turkle thinks we’re headed down a dangerous path…and I agree. This “Alone Together” was compelling mostly because it’s so relevant. I try not to take part in this trend but it takes more than one. My friends have more trouble than I do when it comes to putting their phone away while we’re hanging out. I don’t understand why people feel the need to use their devices when they have great company right next to them. I can understand how people may feel uncomfortable about making conversation with a complete stranger, but true progress will be made when we start stepping out of our comfort zones rather than turning to our devices as a safety net. We need to learn that it is ok to not have control all the time.
Wesch has a similar view as Turkle. He drives home the idea that genuine connections are better than any kind of digital communication. He talks about moving from “knowledgeable” to “knowledge-able.” Basically he thinks we should be able to take our knowledge and apply it. The application step is what matters most.