I’m concerned for myself, and I’m especially concerned for our kids, who are entering an unprecedented period of connectedness. I feel we don’t fully understand the impact, yet we’re forcing it upon ourselves and our children with little hesitation.
Sherry Turkle, a professor and psychologist at MIT, is perhaps the biggest advocate when it comes to surfacing the negative impact of digital connectedness. In a recent analysis in the New York Times, she emphasizes the loneliness that ensues:
Think of it as “I share, therefore I am.” We use technology to define ourselves by sharing our thoughts and feelings as we’re having them. We used to think, “I have a feeling; I want to make a call.” Now our impulse is, “I want to have a feeling; I need to send a text.”
So, in order to feel more, and to feel more like ourselves, we connect. But in our rush to connect, we flee from solitude, our ability to be separate and gather ourselves. Lacking the capacity for solitude, we turn to other people but don’t experience them as they are. It is as though we use them, need them as spare parts to support our increasingly fragile selves.
We think constant connection will make us feel less lonely. The opposite is true. If we are unable to be alone, we are far more likely to be lonely. If we don’t teach our children to be alone, they will know only how to be lonely.
It makes me wonder: if someone is not able to be alone, then is that person less capable of introspection and deep thought?
Likely, and that is troubling.
(Photo: Ed Yourdon)