Lauren Spindle: Manifesto

We should not use technology as our only way to communicate

In Chapter 14 of “Alone Together,” Turkle suggests that communication has changed from simple face-to-face communication to newer forms. These newer forms were created with increased technology; we know these forms as texting, IM’ing, emailing, etc. Turkle goes further to say that texting has become so prevalent in today’s society that we have become accustomed to always having our phones on hand. Communication has now changed from being personable and exciting to standard and emotionless. Technology has created a world where face-to-face communication is not always necessary, and in most cases, is not ideal. In Chapter 14, Turkle talks to students of different ages to see what they think about communication through texting, “Brad says that digital life cheats people out of learning how to read a person’s face and their nuances of feeling” (271). Always using technology to communicate does cause a separation between people because it pulls us away from the reality of emotions. If a boy sends a break-up text to his girlfriend, he is allowing himself to detach from her emotions about the break-up. The receiver of the text, the girlfriend, will have to develop her own idea of how or why the boyfriend is breaking up with her because there is no way over text to fully comprehend another’s emotion. On the other hand, many of the students in this research believed that phone calls felt much more personal because you do can’t really plan what someone will say to you over the phone. Only relying on texting as communication will not only hinder people the ability to understand and process emotion in their head, but it will also create a separation within us. We will feel that any serious communication can only happen via text because we are separated from the feelings because we have the ability to express our feelings without worrying how it sounds, or better yet, how it is read.

Ought we be okay letting technology use our online decisions to shape our personalities?

In Chapter 10 (194), Turkle relates a story about a girl who is concerned with her identity online. She worries about the decisions she makes when choosing websites because she knows these decisions reflect her online identity. She is aware that each site records her visit, that she is who the website believes her to be based on her ‘clicks’ on the site, and that she is a different person dependent upon different sites she visits. So, should we let technology continue to shape these personalities? Or, do we even have a say in the matter? In truth, we do not have much say in the matter as far as whether or not websites keep track of our research and use of websites. In a perfect world, we want the Internet to ‘stay out of our business’ (for lack of better phraseology) because we want to feel protected with our searches and keep our identity unknown. On the other hand, we want this perfect world to take what we have searched for and tailor our future searches around it, for the convenience of it. So is this perfect world even possible? Apparently, not. Personally, I do want the convenience of saved search history and remembered passwords, but at the same time I don’t want my online identity to reflect these searches. I don’t want Google, or other search browsers, to only ever tailor my search to specifics that I have looked for in the past, because at some point I will no longer find this helpful.

Should we want to limit our intake of knowledge?

As David Weinberger suggests, “knowledge has been about reducing what we need to know” (4). Knowledge, at its beginning, was the idea that we could learn more and understand more about basically anything. Knowledge was ever increasing, ever growing, ever expanding. But now we find ourselves at a point where knowledge has increased exponentially to the point where there is no physical way to keep all of it inside our brains. So what have we done? We have used other methods to store and retain this knowledge. We use these on a daily basis: cell phones, computers, external hard drives, etc. What I wonder is, should we put a limit on the amount of knowledge we obtain? Should I stop allowing myself the intake of knowledge because there is no way of storing it within myself? Well, the truth is I will not find myself ever running out of room for knowledge because of these other methods of storage. Without my computer I might find it somewhat difficult to store this knowledge, but then not really because isn’t there the Internet that has all this information on it that I can use to find what I might have forgotten? Isn’t there always yet, another method of finding out information, another place to put this information, another resource for interpreting this information? Yes, there is because technology is always going to be there; technology will be ready to host the newest and most important information at the time. Technology will be there to increase our knowledge on a topic that we believed we were experts on…there is always more information to obtain!

Ought technology influence us more or less?

Technology is such a broad term. Many people take technology to be anything that betters us, advances us, or perhaps, makes a process easier. Others, on the other hand, might think technology is only electricity based, such as computers, phones, televisions, etc. Many people forget that technology has been around for ages, way before iPhones were created, way before DVR was invented…technology is everywhere. While I think people want to believe we make up our own decisions and say that technology does not influence our day-to-day decision making or that we choose to stay connected and that it doesn’t choose for us, well, it is a lie. Technology shapes who we are, not only as a person, but as a family, a unit, a nation, a society. To say that technology should be less of an influence in our lives is a joke, because we cannot live or survive without technology. Even though Kevin Kelly refers to the Amish and their lack of using some technologies, they do not survive without some. Technology can be as complicated as a rocket to as simple as a hammer. Technology is a necessity. Technology is a utility. Technology is a part of our lives and will be forever.

Should online relationships be treated the same as real-life relationships?

In today’s society, online relationships are just as, if not more, prevalent in society than real-life or face-to-face relationships. In many ways, online relationships are easier than a typical real-life relationship. I call these real-life relationships because they are tangible, and to me, online relationships are not tangible, therefore they are not as real. This, for many is probably not the case because so many people have bonded with others online, especially with people they fit into different types of groups. For example, when starting college there were ample Facebook groups that were created for the entering freshmen to meet new people that would be attending the same university. These groups create a sense of community and alikeness, which helps promote relationships among the members. Online relationships seem too disconnected from real-life in a lot of ways because the Internet allows you to recreate yourself. Yes, many or most people who use the Internet claim to be who they really are, but there are also people out there who lie about their real selves. Like we discussed in class, ‘catfishing’ is a new term that is used when another person tricks someone over the Internet who claims to be someone they are not. Can you really know someone’s personality if you have never actually seen or talked to them in person? How do you really understand someone’s personality if you have never interacted face-to-face? Turkle uses an example of this feeling of disconnect between people with regards to online relationships and real-life relationships in Chapter 13 (248-249). Lisa talks about how she feels disoriented by her relationships online because she talks to people on the Internet, but then she doesn’t really have any friends. She states, “I’ll never actually know the people I spoke to. They are ‘chat’ people.” This describes how relationships on the Internet are not REAL relationships because you do not get the chance to actually know who they are.

Parents should introduce their children to technology early on, but should restrict the type and amount of usage they allow.

Because technology is ever growing and ever-present in society, it is unrealistic for parents to attempt to keep their children from it. With that said, allowing children use of technology should have its boundaries and limits because sometimes too much technology can create a monster. Children who are exposed early on to technology will have a good chance of learning things at a young age and continuing to stay familiar with this technology. However, children with too much exposure could find themselves addicted to this technology; for example, children getting tablets at an early age have greater chance of becoming completed entranced and needing their tablet with them all the time. Of course, tablets, computers, and phones are not the only type of technology that children can get their hands on. Technological toys, for example, can also be good for children. Turkle describes instances where she has given children Furbies for their personal use for a short time to see how children react to them. In a lot of ways, technologies like Furby or AIBO can benefit a child’s growth and interest because these type of technologies teach children how to be responsible and care for their toys in order to keep the Furby or AIBO ‘happy.’ The argument that constantly comes to play when discussing children’s relationships with toys such as the Furby or AIBO is whether or not it is alright to let a child continually play with these toys until they die. The always-looming ‘death’ of a toy could prove to be too much for a young child, which is why some parents might feel the need to steer their children away from such toys.