In a presentation of Sherry Turkle’s book Alone Together:Why we Expect More from Technology and Less From Each Other (2011), the publisher (Basic Books) explains that:
Alone Together is the result of MIT technology and society specialist Sherry Turkle’s nearly fifteen-year exploration of our lives on the digital terrain. Based on interviews with hundreds of children and adults, it describes new, unsettling relationships between friends, lovers, parents, and children, and new instabilities in how we understand privacy and community, intimacy and solitude. It is a story of emotional dislocation, of risks taken unknowingly.
The publisher also invites us to watch Sherry Turkle’s March 2012 TED talk. I just did and the talk made me very interested in reading Turkle’s book. Turkle is right, I think. Her message that we are connected, but alone – that the social networks give us ‘pretend empathy’ instead of the real empathy that comes from relating to people in real life, and that the lack of real-life conversations that we’re no longer having with each other compromises our skill for contemplation – is precisely why some of us humanities scholars are such reluctant converts to digital humanities.
We need to talk much more about where the new technology is taking us – about what its possible costs are, Turkle argues. How true. I do urge everyone to listen to her!