Connected, But Alone? Ted Talk by Sherry Turkle

Connected But Alone
I watch Ted Talks regularly, they capture so eloquently, what is taking place in our world, our collective lives, in our hearts. Sherry Turkle’s talk on how technology is altering, not only our connection to others, but most importantly, our connection to ourselves, resonated deeply with me. The very essence of what it means to be human is changing. What becomes disturbing is how quickly we morph into new ways of being with ourselves and others. domain ns How seamless this change can appear.

I work with people everyday in my multiple roles, as teacher, consultant, coach and counsellor. I find myself working with people of all ages and have come to notice a common theme: how busy we all are with no or little disconnected time, how lonely many of us are, despite so many people having ‘over 500 friends’ on Facebook, perhaps hundreds more on LinkedIn, and the people we text daily.

Sherry Turkle begins her talk sharing how her 20 year old daughter texted her, “Mom you will rock”, giving her a virtual hug. I too have a 19 year old daughter, who sometimes sends me a virtual hug, but I have also witnessed the times text can replace conversation between us. Texting has become our safe harbour of conversation, because we can control it. I love the way Sherry highlights this point, “it allows for comfortable, controlled one way dialogue. When we text we have the ability to control the conversation”. How true. We can delete, erase, or decide to not share. Have we replaced connection in ‘real time’ where we learn how to deal with the messiness of relationships, how to experience the real pain of loss, or death? how to experience and share joy?

I teach courses on communication and counselling and what is striking is how my students are moved by ‘being listened to’ for an uninterrupted time with no text, tweet or email interruptions. Just a human ear sitting directly in front of them, sharing real time with a flow of words between them.

This generation of young people have grown too accustomed to the adults around them being distracted – while we multi task, distract and are distracted. I too, love my cell phone and cannot imagine a time I lived without it. The struggle and art we face is how to benefit from what technology brings us while retaining our need for human connection.

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