Amy: This is a post from a few years ago, but I think it’s more apt than ever. In her “Opinion” piece in the New York Times, Sherry Turkle, psychologist and MIT professor, beautifully captures the isolation that accompanies our increasing addiction to our mobile devices. Turkle, who specializes in the intersection between technology and humans behavior, highlights–rather mournfully–the stunting of emotional growth that occurs when we replace actual messy, demanding, person-to-person conversations with texting, Facebook and Twitter.
I know what she means–-though I often feel like an old fogey when I complain about it. I feel slightly bereft now when I get in an elevator in New York and no one looks at each other any more, too engrossed in their phones. It used to provide a few moments of awkward enjoyment, being trapped in a small space with total strangers. So many potentially fascinating public encounters–on planes, trains, in cafes, have been sacrificed to the lure our our electronics. Mesmerized by our screens, the rich tapestry our our human connectedness–-and our awe of the natural world– may be lost unless we pick up our heads and take time to discover where, and who, we are.
In former times we used sunglasses for the same purpose. Anything that would shield our fears from the engulping crowd.
Like Cohen said “lets be alone together”. Its probably a new sort of togetherness I am too old to comprehend.
I still often meet people’s eyes in my country. It’s the youth that mostly seem hypnotized by their devices. I understand them – there is no talking to me when I’m “connected” in that way. I often have a hard time “disconnecting” from the computer and i can sense it requires some effort and some parental attitude towards myself. That is, the kind of company I rarely had in my own youth, from the adults who enjoyed hanging out with me and weren’t too busy. That’s why I say “rarely”. That’s why i think it’s often so hard now to “hang out with myself”.
You know in Romanian “meeting people” is said: “i meet myself with her later”? I’ve been in contact with people via computer and texting a lot in the last few years. If it weren’t for those I physically see in my profession, I’d be seeing very little of myself, to the extent I might completely forget who I am.