Replacing conversation with connection

Working with my friend Philip at StarbucksWe live in a technological universe in which we are always communicating. And yet we have sacrificed conversation for mere connection……In the silence of connection, people are comforted by being in touch with a lot of people — carefully kept at bay. We can’t get enough of one another if we can use technology to keep one another at distances we can control: not too close, not too far, just right.

Human relationships are rich; they’re messy and demanding. We have learned the habit of cleaning them up with technology. And the move from conversation to connection is part of this. But it’s a process in which we shortchange ourselves. Worse, it seems that over time we stop caring, we forget that there is a difference. We are tempted to think that our little “sips” of online connection add up to a big gulp of real conversation. But they don’t. E-mail, Twitter, Facebook, all of these have their places — in politics, commerce, romance and friendship. But no matter how valuable, they do not substitute for conversation.

We expect more from technology and less from one another and seem increasingly drawn to technologies that provide the illusion of companionship without the demands of relationship……When people are alone, even for a few moments, they fidget and reach for a device. Here connection works like a symptom, not a cure, and our constant, reflexive impulse to connect shapes a new way of being.

Sherry Turkle, “The Flight from Conversation”, New York Times, April 21, 2012

4 thoughts on “Replacing conversation with connection

  1. Fabulous post Karl, monitors whether pc screens, smartphones, and now tablets have become insidious at work, at home, on the bus and train, and on the street. As a society we are paying a high price for our virtual connectedness, at the expense of our relationships and our loss of connection with reality.

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