Has Technology Made You Feel More Distant?

Monday, January 17, 2011 - 01:38 PM

For an MIT professor, Sherry Turkle has a contrarian take on technology: Instead of bringing us together, she says it's actually making us more distant. In a new book called "Alone Together: Why We Expect more from Technology and Less from Each Other," she argues that the kind of relationships we build using our new ways of communicating affects our understanding of intimacy and community — for the worse.

We've been asking you: Has technology ever made you feel more distant? How so?

Here's what you told us by text message (text the word START to 69866 to get in on the conversation):

Okla.
Yes! Stopped dating a guy that would only text! We lived two hours away from each other and I could never get him to talk on the phone!

Miami Beach, Fla.
No. Didn't write as much with hand written letters. Now electronic means — in contact with more people all the time.

New York, NY
My girlfriend's mom doesn't want an answering machine. She doesn't want to come home and find she has no messages. Perhaps the same is true of social media connections?

Salt Lake City, Utah
I don't think the brain releases the same chemicals during non face to face communication. When we replace in-person communication with electronic, we're not getting the same psychological benefit.

Stephanie from Anoka, Minn.
Yes, it gives everyone a false sense of connectedness without actually interacting in the way we were designed to. In real time, in person.

Pontiac, Mich.
Yes, more distant, but to a great number more people.// Really? Ya needed MIT for that? All ya had to do is look at all the status updates on Facebook.

Sean, Coconut Grove, Fla.
I've been communicating with my wife online since 1990... The extra communication helped save our relationship.

Pittsburgh, Penn.
Yes. You have less physical contact with the outside world. Although you're talking to people, it makes you feel less lonely if they're actually there with you.

And on Facebook:

James Ellsworth
No. In fact, technology has made it impossible to not be around a phone or computer...the seclusion comes from the ability to be secluded.

Jo Papa Kenney
Nope. I've been more in touch with people I care about at times when it has really mattered. But this is with people that I had strong ties to already, just not the best means to communicate as easily as now.

Tyra Lynne Wahl
To the contrary I think technology has brought me closer to friends and family.

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Comments [2]

Jon Garfunkel from Boston, Mass.

Apologies for my snappy above.
Your question was just worded in a way to drive extreme answers.

After reading David Weinberger's review of the book,
http://www.boston.com/ae/books/articles/2011/01/16/is_our_modern_wired_lifestyle_damaging_us_and_our_relationships/

it seems to me, a better question is, when you reach out online, are you doing so out of empathy for what others have to say, or are you calling attention to yourself?

Jan. 17 2011 05:18 PM
Jon Garfunkel from Boston, Mass.

A research psychologist such as Dr. Turkle would certainly have prepared a survey for her book, and to support the conclusions of the book might make the survey results available, or, at least, the questions. Lacking that, you are forced to solicit a string of unconnected anecdotes...

Jan. 17 2011 04:50 PM

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