Team 2 Keywords: Independence, Stress, Disconnection

Kelsey Jaeger

Independence is the ability to be alone, and to be successful in that aloneness; to not rely on someone or something else to help you. It is so easy today to go on to Google, to call someone to get the answers that you need. Instead of taking the time to try to figure out something on your own, we are raised to go right to the Internet, or to the phone, to find what we need, and where we need to go, and as quickly as possible.

Cell phones are given to children at a much earlier age now, but at an age when the parents feel the child is mature enough to handle the responsibility. But, as Turkle states, that cell phone “comes with a contract: children are expected to answer their parent’s calls” (173). So, while a cell phone is the reward for growing up and maturing, their path to independence is significantly slowed because parents can always get in touch, always check up, giving a feeling of not truly being distanced from your parents.

Going away to school is a big step towards independence for most students. But, for me, even that step is downplayed because I am still expected to call home every day, and if I don’t, there is hell to pay. It’s like my parents are still with me at every second, giving me the help and answers that I cannot, or don’t want to, figure out for myself. I seem to wonder more and more often, at what age will we stop asking our parents, the Internet, the everyday, mundane questions to get through the day, and finally become independent?


Stress is traditionally defined as bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium. In chapter 10 of Alone Together, Sherry Turkle talks to Hope and Audrey, who redefine "stress" as pressure that happens in real time. This second definition fits into the first when you think of pressure as one of the factors that causes mental tension, but it is interesting that both women redefine stress in the same way, despite not being interviewed by Turkle at the same time. Both Hope and Audrey experience this stress during telephone calls, and both of them see texting as a solution to this problem.


Disconnection isn't necessarily being "unconnected" but rather being connected in a different way. As Joel moves through Second Life as his Avatar he is connected to his online community but disconnected from the world around him. Turkle says that Joel operates in a space between being connected and being disconnected, signifying that the word "disconnected" no longer means that we can fully disconnect, but rather we operate somewhere in the space in between.