I was on a plane the other day, settling in to watch a film, when I noticed they had a few TED talks available. With my current desire to soak up all I can about understanding the good and bad all these screens are bringing into my life, I decided The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel could wait twenty minutes while I watched Sherry Turkle’s “Connected, But Alone?” lecture.

I like Turkle’s approach, as she explained last year on The Colbert Report (she referenced the interview in the TED talk), “I love technology. It has it’s place. I teach at MIT… but we have to put technology in its place. And, I kind of think, we’re losing the balance.”

Turkle’s words mirror a lot of thoughts I’ve been having. This disconnect in the way we connect. The deceptive ways we think we’re closer when we’re really further apart.

Lately, I’ve been a bit surprised when friends, close friends, share important news solely via their Facebook Wall. If I don’t visit Facebook on a particular day, I might miss big news. And the fact is, most of the time, once upon a time, we’d call a few dozen people to share what we now broadcast to hundreds. Some whom we really don’t know at all.

I’m about to read Turkle’s book. I’m not bothering to post that to Good Reads right now. I’m not quite as good about keeping up there as I once was. So, please forgive the dust.

I joined Good Reads in 2007. Take a voracious reader with a thing for making lists, and well, Good Reads was my kind of place. I recently logged in for the first time in quite awhile and found myself editing and updating, but I stopped myself. I was organizing lists of what I’d read when I could have used that time to, you know, read. I logged out and picked up the book I was in the midst of.

I like Turkle’s ideas. She doesn’t want to give up new technology. She just wants technology to be “put in its place.”

Colbert shot back, “That’s not what our technology does. You’ve got to cut the apron strings and soar, baby. Because right now, everything is changing so fast, that if you step back and you figure well, is this good or is that good, you won’t have the latest iPhone. And then, what is there to live for?”

We are moving so incredibly fast. We are constantly on. And by on, I don’t only mean just the electronics but us.  It reminded me of what Turkle says about our online connections really being performances. Performing isn’t a bad thing, and I think many do so in earnest. I hope most do.

Even Good Reads feels a bit pretentious sometimes. We are judging books by virtual covers. My opinion of you will not be less if you adore Dan Brown over Dostoevsky. I swear.

I cherish the friends with whom I regularly share in person, by phone, even chatting online but one on one – we are talking to one another. We’re not on. We’re in the moment. Moments are priceless.

Here’s Turkle’s Colbert interview and the TED talk. I’ll let you know about her book. But I can’t guarantee I’ll get around to rating it on Good Reads.


TED Talk: Connected, but alone?


4 thoughts on “Turkle, TED and Colbert: The Disconnect in How We Connect

  1. ritaarens

    I didn’t realize people were judging my GoodReads until I posted one of the BlogHer Book Club erotica books that I have to read for work and someone commented in surprise. I sort of laughed about it and then decided not to post the next one I have to read. Which is stupid, because I use GoodReads as a list to tell me which order to read in because I have so many books in queue. Ridiculous!

    1. alexandra Post author

      I love it! For those who use GoodReads as a tool, I think it’s really great. But I think sometimes the tools can control us. You’ve found that balance. I bow to you!

    2. alexandra Post author

      Also, when I first joined in ’07 I was given this HUGE list of books to check off if I’d read and I remember spending FOREVER filling it out. But as I said, booklover + lists = heaven, so I didn’t think about how much time I spent adding a lot of old books.

  2. Pingback: Tech Resolutions 2013: Apps to Improve Our Online Lives | Alexandra Wrote

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