Sherry Turkle: 'Even a Silent Phone Disconnects Us'

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You've probably said it yourself.

Sherry Turkle has spent the past 30 years studying the psychology of the relationship between people and technology  how giant technological advances change our communities, our relationships, and even our inner selves.  

Her 2011 book "Alone Together" topped the charts for months, and created all kinds of conversations about the more isolating, more problematic side of being glued to a screen. But as she remembers it: "It was like I was messing up the party... a lot of people were, like, angry with me. It was like I was destroying this [technological] love affair."

Five years later, her new book "Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in the Digital Age" explores similar themes about intimacy, relationships, and the difference between texting and talking. This time around however, she says the reception has been much warmer. 

"I think that there's a lot in the culture that's saying, 'You know, we're ready to think about what we're like with our phones, and we're ready to be purposeful and to use our technology with greater intention. My message now is still 'Use the technology with greater intention.' And I think that 5 years ago, it was like, 'No!'"

When she stopped by to talk with us for our episode "Can You Have a Whole Relationship Through Texts?" we fell into a larger conversation about our partnerships, our phones, and this particular moment in history. So in this special bonus edition of Note to Self, we've decided to share a few more of her takeaways on the issues and feelings our listeners so often describe to us.

Listen above (or anywhere else you get your podcasts) to hear what she has to say to these questions and more:

There's a Phone in the Middle of My Marriage

“For me, my phone is just a toolbox... for my wife, I think her phone is much much more than a tool - so much more that it is changing our marriage. Many days I feel that I am now an unwilling polygamist married to my wife of nearly 20 years and, more recently, her phone. I wonder how other couples are dealing with this transition to the smartphone age.”

— Luther Light

How Can Social Media Managers Socialize?

“What is the best way for social media managers to navigate their life at work and at home? I have a young son, and I’ve been a social media manager now for two years. And I think if you’re a young 20-something year old you can devote 24 hours a day to your social media and checking… but now with a young son, I find it difficult... How do social media managers navigate their notifications and that life balance? Because their job is to always be connected. How do we disconnect? What types of life hacks could really help the job?” 

— John Oles 

Do The Kids Even Know What They're Missing?

“We honestly believe that children are missing out on the physical experiences of playing, wandering, and learning in these very developmental stages. Will [our children] feel the same way?”

— Brian Emerson

 

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