Team 2 Keywords

1. Flow: A term developed by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, which is expressed as "the mental state in which a person is fully immersed in an activity with focus and involvement. In the flow state, you have clear expectations and attainable goals. You concentrate on a limited field so that anxiety dissipates and you feel fully present." (Alone Together, p. 226)

This definition is the one that I felt encompassed the whole of Chapter 11, because it is the definition of being involved in the virtual realities that are presented to people today. Many people throughout this chapter shared their experiences with the virtual realities that they chose to use. There was Joel, who used a small whimsical elephant avatar to play out the roles that he wanted to have in life, in the virtual reality of Second Life. He was a leader, and an artist, and he used Second Life to help him gain confidence and essentially "practice" for real life. This type of virtual reality is beneficial to life in the "real," and allows Joel to gain self confidence and assurance in a healthy way. Conversely, Adam, who we read about later in the chapter, uses virtual reality to escape from his day to day life and leave those pressures behind for a world that he feels is more "real" to him than his own life. He spends up to 15 hours at a time playing virtual games, and feels that his own life, in the "real," is slipping away. He is going to lose his job, and his friends have all moved on, but he takes refuge in the games, because it is the one place where he feels like he is who he wants to be. This type of interaction with virtual reality can be very detrimental, but both descriptions are consistant with the flow mentality.
(Katie Winand)

2. Focus: “to concentrate attention or effort.” Merriam-Webster’s definition of focus is not strict enough for my purpose, so let’s look at part of the definition: concentrate, defined as to “focus one's attention or mental effort on a particular object or activity.” This definition uses “focus” so it may seem cyclical, but the main idea has presented itself: that focusing means concentrating on “a particular object or activity.” Meaning, one object or one activity. This idea fits in strongly with Katie’s keyword of “flow,” something often described as being “in the zone.” Anyone who has played a competitive sport (or video game, spelling bee, anything competitive really) likely knows what it means to be “in the zone.” You are so focused that you are not thinking about what you had for lunch or who you need to text later; you are so in the moment that your mind is essentially blank, you simply react from instinct and learned muscle memory. You are not even thinking about whether or not you are succeeding in the task, you are simply invested on the process. The catch here is that while “in the zone” we are at our best. As soon as we stop worrying about the outcome, we are able to successfully take it one step at a time.
This fits into our reading in chapters 8 and 11. On page 155 Turkle first mentions that “it is easier to communicate if you can focus, without interruption, on your screen.” This is undoubtedly true, but as she goes deeper into the section about multitasking, we find that it is rare that we are able to “focus” on one thing while we have our screens in front of us. On page 161 she says “a simple cell phone brings us into the world of continual partial attention.” Attention divided inherently means a lack of focus. The heavy multitaskers that she describes “[can’t] resist measuring success against a metric of what they could accomplish if they were always available,” pushing their expectations from the realm of quality to quantity. One woman, Diane, even describes herself as a “maximizing machine”. Yet, Diane admits that “she does not have the time to take her time on the things that matter.” Another interview subject, Trey, says that while technology has been “liberating,” the fast-paced “on a treadmill” way of working that he has adopted “isn’t the same as being productive.” Focus may or may not be an inherent trait in humans, but undoubtedly we are losing it as a skill. And as we lose our ability to focus, the quality of our work suffers at the expense of appearing to get more done. As a result, other people’s words become “throwaway,” ideas become more black and white (fewer “mixed feelings”), and we become “nervous” with growing “anxiety.” (quotes are from pages 162-168)
(Tony Pagliaro)

3. Life mix: “the mash-up of what you have on- and offline.” (pg. 160) Described to Turkle by Pete, the man who was essentially conducting an extra-marital affair with a woman (avatar?) named Jade in Second Life, the idea of a “life mix” should be familiar to all of us, even if it is a new term. Of course people for centuries have had different sides of their personality that only appear in certain conditions, but this “rapid cycling through” our different personalities has truly come to a head with mobile technology. These days, we may expose an among-friends ‘real’ side, a texting side, a phone conversation side, a Facebook side, a professional side, and any other of the many possible sides of our personalities within the context of a single day or even a single hour. This contributes heavily to the idea (one often referenced by our professor) of being ‘there but not there.’ Turkle states it as a “continual coprescence,” meaning that we never have to be in a single place at the same time. In fact, we never have to be a single person at the same time. The dinner-party hosting widower Sal expresses his frustration with the life mix when he describes the incident in which a woman was “blogging the conversation” that they were still in the middle of. She clearly couldn’t resist the temptation to delve into the blogger side of her personality for long enough to even finish talking to Sal. As Turkle puts it, she wanted “to appear on a larger virtual stage,” and I think that this gets to the heart of the matter. Many of us feel starved for attention, seeking it in as many realms are as possible. We often have different groups of friends on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, video games, and real life, all of which are part of our life mix, and all of which are potential audiences. Getting attention can be rewarding, and spreading our ideas and opinions can be beneficial to all involved. But the question we have to ask ourselves is: how far invested in certain aspects of our life mix will we allow ourselves to become? At what point does a severe dedication to posting on Facebook (or a personal blog, or making new friends in Second Life or World of Warcraft, or texting our friends or parents) detract from how we communicate in the real world? If our attention is so thinly divided, how much is that attention ultimately worth? (quotes are from pages 160-162)
(Tony Pagliaro)

4. Isolation: Isolation is a difficult term to take into account for Chapter 9: growing up tethered. Here isolation is focused on the opposite spectrum of what it initially means. According to Webster, isolation is “the process or fact of isolating or being isolated. To remain alone or apart from others.” In chapter 9, isolation is used in a different stance though, asking if we are ever truly alone? Are we ever completely disconnected from the world without any cell phone, computer, or technological device? In Alone Together, a group of students are asked “When was the last time you felt you didn’t want to be interrupted?” (p 171). Ironically, but by no surprise really, no one answers. Since we are ALWAYS connected and networking. Whether it is through text messaging or AIM, young individuals of this decade are never truly lonely, better yet understand what it’s like to “survive” and figure tough situations out alone. On page 173 she discusses the importance of children having cell phones and responding to their parents in an adequate amount of time, when receiving a phone call or text. “The cell phone buffers this moment” (173). Does this mean technology is a buffer for experience? An experience, such as navigating through a city alone, as described in the paragraph. If you’re a young teen trying to be independent and find your way through a foreign city alone, there is always a piece of technology (cell phone) to connect you with someone else. Whether it be to help you find your way faster or to console your feelings of frustration. Cell phones and GPS systems, are the technological “guardian angels” of our time.

Another example of isolation that was portrayed: was a group of boys who believed they shouldn’t have taught their parents how to text. “I feel trapped and less independent” (174). Perhaps this is because parents are also becoming more engrossed in the technological aspect of communicating with the younger generation more efficiently and promptly. In this case their own children. Parents explain frustration when their child doesn’t respond to either message forms (phone call & text). As emphasized, parents don’t always feel necessarily worried that they’re not hearing back from their child because they think something is wrong. But because the feel disconnected or a lack of returned compassion. Where does isolation play a key role in emotional compassion? Is technology the new form of reassurance for parents, spouses, or even boyfriends/girlfriends to express how they feel? Without technology would isolation allow more individuals to be better communicators with the ones they care for, having time to be alone, or perhaps reflect?

(Sarah Brown)

5. Control: “the power to direct or influence people’s behavior or the course of events.” In Chapter 10, Audrey talks about how she prefers texting over a phone call because it gives her control. She describes it that “you have time to think and prepare what you’re going to say, to make you appear like that’s just the way you are” (Turkle 190). It allows her to edit what she’s saying before it is sent or to even block a person. While we are so empowered by this control, I think about what we are doing to the receiver of the message. In a sense, we are hurting them in many ways that we wouldn’t if we were in person or on the phone. We would never walk away from a person mid-conversation or keep a person from approaching us or hang up a phone call unexpectedly, but that is exactly the control we have with texting. Audrey defines her own term of boundness to mean that texting doesn’t bind us to anyone in the way that a phone call does. With a phone call, we are controlling the other person’s actions. We know that on the phone some tasks are just simply not possible. We are controlling what they say because it requires you to respond immediately and does not have any room for editing or deleting what was said. Texting doesn’t have any boundness to it. It doesn’t allow us to lose control.
(Lexi Pettigrew)