The Flight From Conversation
A generation has grown up feeling that “It would rather text than talk.” And believing that it is possible to share our attention during almost everything we do. What are the costs of a “flight from conversation” in personal life, among one’s family and friends? What are the costs in the work world? And most important, what can we do about it?
Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other
Facebook. Twitter. Second Life. “Smart” phones. Location-aware services that tell us where our friends are. Technology promises to let us do anything from anywhere with anyone. But it also drains us as we try to do everything everywhere. We begin to feel overwhelmed and depleted by the lives technology makes possible. We may be free to work from anywhere, but we are also prone to being lonely everywhere. We turn to new technology to fill the void, but as technology ramps up, our emotional lives ramp down. In a surprising twist, relentless connection leads to a new solitude.
Sherry Turkle has explored our lives on the digital terrain for nearly fifteen years. Drawing insights from her book, “Alone Together” (Basic Books, 2011), she presents the power of these new tools to dramatically alter our social lives and our business productivity.
Turkle explains businesses’ need to reassess the usefulness of some old virtues in today’s hyper-connected corporate cultures–in particular, deliberateness and solitude. Questioning whether we’ve edged ourselves into a paradox, Sherry challenges audiences to address such questions as: What are costs of hyper-connectivity? Are people overloaded connecting but not communicating? How have we bought in to the “myth of multitasking”? Does multitasking keep our brains on a “high,” but deteriorate our performance in each of our tasks? And how does this new always on, always connected state affect our ability to think, to be creative, and to innovate?
The Power of Conversation: Preserving Human Connection in a Digital World
Technology has not only changed what we do; it has changed who we are, with dramatic impacts on how we work, learn, and think about the world. In particular, the technologies of constant connection has encouraged a “flight from conversation” in every domain. We text not talk in our relationships with children, spouses and partners, and business colleagues.
Sherry Turkle examines how technology shapes modern relationships, both in personal and professional life, seen through our growing tendency to sacrifice conversation for mere connection. If we reclaim conversation, we will achieve richer lives at home, work, and in the public sphere. After her most recent investigations of how conversation works in private, professional, and public life, Turkle argues that there is time and necessity to reclaim conversation as well as constructive solitude. As we do this, we will teach students to relearn the discipline of focusing on one thing at a time. And managers will have a new forward-thinking task: to help workers learn the capacity for collaborative conversation and productive solitude. Right now we undermine solitude as we undermine conversation. At a cost: both are good for the bottom line.
Without conversation, we shortchange ourselves. Our relationships with ourselves and others suffer. At work, we face a paradox: a new regime of always-on communication isolates us in ways that compromise innovation, collaboration, and leadership. Turkle believes now is the time to design for our vulnerability to always-on connection. We have an opportunity to design technology and social environments for a better fit with our most reflective, creative, and profitable life.