Facebook, Twitter, online social network, “Smart” phones and the tablets are the hotshots in our life. Many years ago we asked what we would use computers, Internet and artificial intelligence for. Now the question is what don’t we use them for (Turkle, 1). Now, through the new technology, we create, navigate, and illustrate our emotional lives by those electronic machines and those transmit signals. At the same time, we are losing something called “connection” or “relationship” which we are not born with, but we used to have it. This is a profound skill, which developed in the young ages, but young people may not get the skills done.
Young people achieve the opposite of what they hope to achieve when they ‘connect’ via the Internet: although young people have a good connection though the Internet, they don’t have real relationships there.
Sherry Turkle, a professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology in MIT brought an interesting idea, “People bend to the inanimate with new solicitude and people’s concern (Alone Together, 217). We fear the risks and disappointments of relationships with our fellow humans. We expect more from technology and less from each other.”
One day I used to have a talk with my roommate who lived on the second floor; I was too lazy to climb those twenty steps to his room, and instead had a ‘Facetime’ call to talk with him. It seems doesn’t hurt the relationship between my roommate and I. Plus the new “Facetime” technology was so amazing and attractive for us at that time. It doesn’t hurt when we did once, but it is truly hurt if we always communicate by “Facetime.” I am thinking off we are not roommate anymore; we just are two “Facetime-mate” who are living together.
The Internet is no longer represent the electric wire between the port behind your computer and the modem. The Internet means a lot. The wireless connection to the computer, the smart phone and tablets. It means text message, emails and Facebook posting. It is a new lifestyle that people can do things via the technology, no longer need be ‘face to face’ to accomplish something. They don’t only change what we do, it also change who we are. A vivid example happened on professor Sherry Turkle, and she talked about it on her presentation in TED talk 2012. Before she went up on the stage, she got a text message from her daughter said ” Mom you will rock”. Apparently Sherry was happy about that, to get a text message from her daughter to wish her luck on the presentation. Similarly, Sherry had a talk on TED before, when her daughter was only five and sat next to the platform to listen something she couldn’t understand that time, but she might use everyday in her future.
Fifteen years ago, Sherry was on the cover of Wired Magazine to celebrate the new life of social media will totally change the way how people communicate, she got a hug from her five years old daughter before she went to the platform. Sherry said in her book that “But if it’s a text, there’s no way you didn’t get it. Few people look down at their phone and then walk away from it. Few people do that. It really doesn’t happen…. Texting is pressure. I don’t always feel like communicating. Who says that we always have to be ready to communicate?” (TED, 2012).
To be honest, getting a vibration from my pocket can make people feeling exciting. I definitely will put lots of expectation to check the text message either from the people I expect sent me message or some message surprised. I am addicted to do that, and I think other people as well. At this point, I am not saying Sherry wasn’t unhappy to get the text message from her daughter, but compare with got a hug. It was a totally different thing.
A text message via transmit signal or Internet was too “cold” to read, whatever how amazing or surprising the contents are. People cannot feel the emotional part from the letters, symbols or signal. However, a hug can give lots of other things, like wish her mother luck. People connect each other by face-to-face conversation, shaking hands, exchanging eye contact, body language gestures or a hug. Although the “Facetime” provide video chat function, do you realize there is nothing but pixels in the eyes? When have a real connection, a conversation, people can experience the emotion, attitude and feeling from each other. This is the different thing between real connection and texting message or email or other electronic chatting.
Here is an interview from Sherry’s newest book . A Fifty- years-old businessman feels no longer have a colleague anymore, because it all time they are busy at typing emails and texting messages. He said he doesn’t want to interrupt them and he doesn’t want to be interrupted. Nevertheless, he though he rather could be interrupted by someone. The fact is he still focusing on his tiny 2.2-inch blackberry display and constantly typing without any intention (47). However, in the past 20 years the Internet and social networks have brought profound changes in how communication is disseminated(Wired Magazine, 2009). I couldn’t imagine the life without Internet, smart phone and social networking. These things bring people more closely never before. It has advanced technology to provide to us a remarkable communication experience. People are not afraid how far between them.
They can comfortably deal with the time difference. Sending emails makes their work more effective. Social networking is a revolutionary invention that making people keep in touch, getting knows each other and finding someone you didn’t talk. Social networking is not only the tools to connect each, but also it set up a platform that can share information on it. Friends can directly see what you posting and what you sharing. Texting message is a game changer. Nowadays lots of people rather texting then calling, because they are enjoying the way how to connect. Typing on those tiny buttons and waiting the response is a different experience compare with sending a letter or something even outdated. “The Internet and online communication are becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow” the former CEO of the Microsoft Bill Gates used to say. (Up close, Aronson) Those technologies bought us a new vision of communication and education.
There are certain reasons why people love texting, shooting emails, and posting. All the things you typed, the picture you shoot, even the location you were can easily adjusted and edited. Otherwise people put those shinning fancy stuff outside to present self what and who they want to be. On the other hand, a real conversation cannot easily mortified, which it takes real place and real time, it cannot control what you going to say and you have lots of other things have to certain when you have a conversation with others. It practice your speak ability and strain capacity.
Young people are facing the problem that losing the ability to have a real conversation, how someone stands, the tone of their voice, the expression on their face. But ‘Internet’ cleans it up to them, texting message, emails and posting seems more straight-forward and effective. They rather sacrifice the real conversation to get connection with others. Then the problem comes again, everything they do via Internet are modified, not one hundred percent true, how people want to get connection with others in a fake picture? Young people cannot really know each other though Internet, and sometime they may mix the real world and virtual life.
The other reasons about why young people loves “Internet” because they can get others attention. “When young people are insecure, they find ways to manufacture love tests—personal metrics to reassure themselves” Sherry said. Internet is the place can listen to you as friends, can comments to you as friends, can share emotion as friends, although they are not real friends, usually you don’t know them beside the front page and name. Facebook is a very successful website, it put people together in a virtual world to do something you can or you can’t do in the real world. On the Facebook, there are countless numbers of people tensional or intentional watches and follows on you. It will be felt the center of the world and be focused. And no one create the Facebook, we are the people create the Facebook. If someday we don’t post or share or click the ‘like’ on the bottom left corner, there will be no Facebook.
Our networked life allows us to hide the real things from each other and show off the good things. When young people felt lonely, they rather go online to be focused then find someone to talk. At the same time they lost connection with others and be plugin into Internet, they compromise the capacity of self-reflection. Young people are not only losing the ability, but also confusing to see themselves. They can’t bear to part with the fantasy virtual plugin world that makes them not feel lonely. Mix the cyber life with the real life makes them confuse. The virtual world reflects us that we are the people afraid of lonely; precisely virtual world can provide an environment give people imagination to feel not lonely.
Stephen Colbert has a question that adds the entire texting, posting, tweeter, emails and other stuff together, could be a real conversation? I think not. Because of the communication and connection between people are so rich, massy and demanding. Internet is not even close to that. My favorite TV series “the newsroom” has a quote said, “First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one.” Thankfully we find this problem and recognize it. The modern technology only fix the hardware issues, cannot deal with the problem that is happening inside. The lack of self-reflection makes us afraid loneliness more. Young people trying to reach other people all the time by those advanced technology. It always happened that few of friends go out together but sometimes they all lower their head typing these magical machines. It seems being together or not being together.
Sherry, Turkle. (2012). Alone Together, Perseus Books Group, Philadephia, PA
Sherry, Turkle. (Feb, 2012). http://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together.html
Alexander George, August. 2009. “What we expect next?”, Wired Magazine, p65
Marc Aronson. (2008) Bill Gates (Up close), Viking Juvenile publish