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CONNECTED, BUT ALONE?

Sherry Turkle | TED2012

As we expect more from technology, do we expect less from each other? Sherry Turkle studies how our devices and online personas are redefining human connection and communication — and asks us to think deeply about the new kinds of connection we want to have.

Just a moment ago, my daughter Rebecca texted me for good luck. Her text said, “Mom, you will rock.” I love this. Getting that text was like getting a hug. And so there you have it. I embody the central paradox. I’m a woman who loves getting texts who’s going to tell you that too many of them can be a problem.

Actually that reminder of my daughter brings me to the beginning of my story. 1996, when I gave my first TEDTalk, Rebecca was five years old and she was sitting right there in the front row. I had just written a book that celebrated our life on the internet and I was about to be on the cover of Wired magazine. In those heady days, we were experimenting with chat rooms and online virtual communities. We were exploring different aspects of ourselves. And then we unplugged. I was excited. And, as a psychologist, what excited me most was the idea that we would use what we learned in the virtual world about ourselves, about our identity, to live better lives in the real world.

Now fast-forward to 2012. I’m back here on the TED stage again. My daughter’s 20. She’s a college student. She sleeps with her cellphone, so do I. And I’ve just written a new book, but this time it’s not one that will get me on the cover of Wired magazine. So what happened? I’m still excited by technology, but I believe, and I’m here to make the case, that we’re letting it take us places that we don’t want to go.

Watch the full TED talk here.

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