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"The Robotic Moment"

Sherry Turkle's fascinating story from Alone Together of her daughter's idea of authenticity and idea of being "alive enough" at a Darwin exhibit.

Pertinent Posts from the On Being Blog

As the world shrinks and technology empowers us, Jennifer Cobb says, we must not forget slavery can take many forms, including abdicating our responsibility of tikkun olam. What do you think of her assessment?


Sometimes reticence becomes a full embrace when circumstances change, especially with your first grandchild.


Will the transcendent possibilities of "the singularity" invade our spiritual domains too?

For 20 years Sherry Turkle has asked unusual questions about the human side of technology. She wants to know how our relationship with devices affects our psychology, and why it is that “we no longer care if we are among life.”


Being mindful may mean you just can't shoot that next photo or journal that gorgeous sunset. A 3-minute TEDtalk.

The Internet Wishlist creates a space for people to share the holes and needs in their complex lives where apps and websites could do them some good.

The FOMO factor? Turned into lil' performers? A septuagenarian who is "on his way"?

Reporting back from this year's World Science Festival: how artificial intelligence will help us deal with the unsolvable and yes even the certain.

Wisdom from Google's senior management that reminds us who drives technology.

With disruption comes reinvention, this video from the World Science Festival shows us what's in store for us tech users.

Our robotic moment? Perhaps we need to be asking better questions of ourselves rather than the more simplistic ones when it comes to thinking about our relationship with technology.

November is Native American Heritage Month. We talk with an Ojibwe language preservationist on how technology can save a key part of Native American culture.

About the Image

The Adkins family poses for a portrait session.

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Absolutely! Especially since there is no Temple, sacred time is what Jews honor. And in our case, supper and breakfast, no matter where, are generally sacred family time.

I remember how much I used to love sailing on the Pacific because, even though we did have a ship-to-shore radio we were out on the water, with the wind and the sea. There was something of the same feeling at the family cabin in the High Sierras where there was no telephone, no radio, and certainly no TV (I don't have TV). I wrote about this in my book The Litany: A Game in Time and Space. Probably today there would not be the same solitude because people would have cell phones. Back then I didn't even have a lap-top, although we did have a computer at home, an Apple II+ which would be called a desktop today. We bought it used from an architect. It was originally 48K and we upgraded it to 64K. So far I have owned more than a dozen Apple computers. (I used to be a computer programmer and college professor.) I am due for an upgrade of my cell phone, and was considering going from a dumb phone to a smart one, but when I see all the people on the train chained to their devices (every single person on the Metra is looking at a device in their hands) I'm thinking of keeping the dumb one. Yesterday in a screening I noticed the tiny screen of a woman down in front. I couldn't imagine what could be so compelling as to keep her from the start of the film. Once I saw two girls sitting across from each other at a booth in a restaurant, texting across the table. But my real problem is trying to get off Facebook. I enjoyed it in the early stages but found some of my "friends" posted everything they did all day, so that I knew more about their day than really necessary. Also when I visited their town (my hometown L.A.) they had no time to see me. I have done everything I could think of to say goodbye to Facebook, but they do not seem to understand "unsubscribe." I specifically asked them to stop sending me e-mail messages. Now what they have chosen to do is send me half a dozen e-mail messages from people whom I do not know: every day. Surely there must be some way of stopping this behavior. Do you have any ideas?

There are plenty of things we can use to pull ourselves away from the present, from each other, from ourselves. I worry about children's ability to learn how to self-soothe when adults are so clearly dependent on electronic crutches. I think the generation that's growing up now with parents glued to facebook and smartphones are going to solve this problem for us simply by reacting against the trauma of being ignored.

I work in a public library, and the other day we had a lost child situation. The toddler could barely articulate his own name, he was so upset. Within half an hour, security found the parents- on a different floor, on the computer with headphones on, quite surprised to find their child had escaped from his stroller. I'm glad that Sherry Turkle is researching how technology serves our lives or doesn't. We have a lot to learn.

I write a blog. Before I started, I'd never even read a blog. I wondered who had time for them. But then this opportunity presented itself and I began. The blog has been being birthed for almost a year now and it has truly taken on a life of its own. Not only is it, post by post, presenting a portrait of the lives we live as artists up here in the mountains of northern New Mexico (on the High Road to Taos), it is also doing what I dearly hoped it would: it is inspiring others to reflect on their lives. As I look deeply at the life I am living and the lives of my friends, people I've never met before have begun to examine theirs.

One reader wrote to say that, because of reading the blog, she'd come to understand that the job she was doing, in the company she had started decades before, was no longer satisfying. She was working with people she didn't like, doing work she didn't enjoy. So she took a pay cut and went back to the people she enjoyed, doing the part of the job she'd always liked. Wow. And this came about because of technology that many are wanting to vilify.

The internet is in its infancy. And while we must, as has always been the case, figure out how we are going to live; whether we will let this tool be a blessing or a curse, the internet has an unimaginable potential for human connection as well as for the disconnect we fear.

Here are some links to give you an idea of some of the issues the blog takes up:

I once taught Information Technology at Marylhurst near Portland and was surprised when over 1/3 of my classes were Arabs--pre-9/11. I had to rebuild the class, because we didn't have a common base with the standard student there. My first test, a pop quiz, would be to have each student describe the technology of the artifact in front of them...where I had passed out arrow heads, 1880s farm implements and other historical pieces. The point, beside me getting a view of the "voice" of the student, was to point out technology is a very old thing, not something we have to race out and try to catch up with. That stress of finding and using "what's the newest" is terrible to learners.

My next topic was to study the Amish, who regulate how they, as a people, accept technology. The Arabs loved the Amish. One dropped out of school and traveled to an Amish community for a couple weeks. He came back, slapped me on the back, thanked me and said "I have found my father's people. Now I know how to act in my own culture in a modern time." My point was to find a group that accepted technology, but on their own terms. The Amish still do. Some use computers today in their auto repair firms and go home to a traditional Amish no electricity home.

My children embraced technology. One graduated from MIT as an electrical engineer. Another is an electrical engineer from CMU--both high paid young women now. They love coming home, as I've evolved to a guy who teaches folks how to be self sufficient on the land, as that is how I grew up and where I am after a life of using cutting edge "technology" in my retirement. They are comfortable in both worlds. And that is what we need to do with children...make them comfortable in many world perspectives.

I have spent my entire career working with (for?!) the devices and technologies Krista and Sherry discussed. Their conversation shook loose two related ideas for me.

My first thought, especially from my current perch as an IT manager, is that devices like BlackBerries are symbols of power and importance in the corporate environment. Average workers see the execs with these devices and make the lazy intellectual leap that the devices connote power. And who doesn't want to be seen as powerful and important at work? The problem with this conclusion is that it gets extended into the non-work environment, thus families get ignored for smart phones.

Secondly, my question, even to those around me lost in the throes of gadget lust, is: "what is missing from your life?" These devices and technologies fill our lives because we allow them to, and they enter our lives because we almost always invite them in. It's one thing to find ourselves beholden to email at the office. I know I certainly do. But in our personal lives? The cultural need to fill the natural silences in life with email and its ilk says something disturbing to me about how we relate to our own thoughts and selves. Given where we are as a society in general, I cannot see this as a healthy or sustainable trend.

I recently bought an Android and into the whole world of smart phones. It has already had a few unexpected benefits, such as more contact with my mother, who has an ipad. We text one another a couple of times a week, and although the texts are short and somewhat superficial (ie. "I'm in the grocery store") it's precisely those seemingly mundane details that make our dialogue specific and alive. We're catching each other in real moments. It's somehow easier (and more fun) than the longer call that would happen in order to "catch up" after many weeks.

I am really sorry to see there is so much hostility towards cell phones, facebook ie technology. In my life, without cell phone contact at a crucial moment, a close relative's health crisis would not have been helped in time. I dread to imagine how it might have ended had the person I contacted unplugged. I am grateful they had their cell phone in hand and were able to rush and help.

With the help of facebook I am able to have at least some contact with my cousins, nieces, nephews scattered all over the world. I can share and participate in milestones in life even when time and finances won't allow to attend in person. A simple text message many a time has saved hours of worrying and anxiety. Skype and Chat have forged bonds when none would have been possible because of distance.

I wrote letters when I first came to USA to my relatives in India and by the time I wrote or received replies, the topics were no longer relevant; the moment of decision for which a piece of advice from a parent or a sibling would have helped, had long passed!!! We needed to book 'trunk calls' and wait for a couple of days to be connected to talk a few minutes over scratchy phone lines!! It is so much easier to share photos via e-mail and facebook vs the days it took to develop, make copies, mail and hope they reached without getting lost. There is joy in sharing things instantly even when miles separate you.

Its the little moments that build memories : I love the voice of a loved one and so often the only way I can hear it is on the phone; sharing a small private joke or just finished painting online, an impromptu photo taken and mailed using cellphone that connects and brings a smile even miles away.

I want this technology, want to use it wisely and hope to be there for a loved one in time of need.

PS: since privacy of another person is involved and I do not want to give details, I do not want this letter attributed to me. But I feel strongly that 'unplugging' leaving the phone behind when you leave the house etc.. as your guest was strongly advising are entirely misguided and very unfortunate - you may never know when you need help or can help another in time of need.

(Note: My reflection is long! Please feel free to edit it if it's too long.)

There is one particular question that makes an impression on me and that is “Is it alive enough for this purpose?”. Ms. Turkle is realizing that children don't care whether something is alive as much as whether it's alive enough for the purpose that it's trying to convey. This is somewhat troubling to me because it implies that children are, in a way, starting to view something like life as “better done” by a robotic object. As an example, imagine if we replaced all of the animals in a zoo with mechanical replicas because they more accurately portrayed animals that were “alive”. We wouldn't have the luxury of sitting and watching a real life lion casually basking in the sun and pondering “I wonder what it's thinking right now?” or trying to figure out it's thought process when presented with a new object. Sure, a robotic lion might be more active than a lion relaxing in the grass but then we're missing the point of viewing a real life lion doing real life lion things. Instead we're watching a faux lion performing actions that we think a lion would perform and as such programmed it to do so. We would only be looking at our own interpretation of a lion as opposed to a lion.

Another interesting thought that Ms. Turkle brings up is how connected we are to technology. This topic really hit home with me because of how closely I work with computers. For work I test and validate medical device software and in my free time I study software engineering. Because of this I'm on my computer nearly all day. While I like what I do, listening to this broadcast made me realize the affects of being so “connected”. Even at work we use electronic means to communicate to one another despite the fact we all sit by one another. We use instant messaging software and e-mail to ask each other questions and expect immediate responses. While it's not news to me that I spend a majority of my time using technology, it was somewhat eye opening to realize that I don't spend enough time just quietly doing nothing, allowing myself to just sit, relax and formulate original thought without reacting to external things such as to what I'm studying, an e-mail or instant message. My favorite line from the interview: “I mean, when you're emailing, you're reactive. It's not you. It's not your independent thoughts. It's your reactive to other peoples' possibilities, other peoples' plans, other peoples' input, other peoples' ideas. And there's just something about being completely in your own head with your own thoughts that's very valuable.”

Studying computer science I found myself almost trying to defend its honor. While I understood where Turkle was going and, for the most part, agreed with her; I often found myself (incorrectly) thinking about how she must be against technology, completely forgetting that she makes it very clear throughout her interview that this isn't the case. She wants both humans and technology to mature to the point that we find a perfect balance of technology in our lives. While I think being so closely connected to technology is a good thing in a lot of ways, I will agree with her that there is definitely negative aspects to our current relationship with technology.

listened to Alive Enough with author of Alone Enough, Sherry Turkle. I liked this discussion. It is so true.

I liked the point that she made that we need solitude. I agree, I think that it is so important for us to have that time to disconnect from our technology. It is so rare for us. We take a vacation and continue to check our e-mail or receive text messages and calls from our boss. It really struck me as she spoke about parent's use of technology and the effect it has on our children. Our children do need to be given our undivided attention. I was sad when I thought of the child getting in the car with their parent and wanting to have their attention as the parent was using their smartphone. We are teaching our kids all the time by our example. The idea that children are feeling lonely and alone because of the amount of time their parents spend online, on the phone, reading email, etc., is sad. We usually think of the teens and kids as being the ones who are addicted to technology. Unfortunately, many of them are. But as adults, we definately are too.

Another point made was that our technology actually cuts off communication. Which, when you think about it, is true and makes perfect sense. Our constant use of technology can inhibit our ability to think for ourselves. We are continually connected to some type of device, replying to text messages and email, walking down the beach on the phone, driving on the phone. I think we need more "down" time to just be. I like the idea of taking a sabbatical from email or declaring email bankruptcy. I am not sure if I will do either though.

For me, this broadcast gave me alot to think about. Life is short and I don't want to spend the majority of mine relating to an electronic device. I like Sherry's comment " If we don't teach our children to be alone, they will only know how to be lonely." To me, this means that we need to have and to teach the ability to step back and listen to our own thoughts. To have solitude, to be at peace with ourself, and to be truly present with the people you care about.

In this episode of "On Being" Krista Tippet is discussing with author Sherry Turckle about the impact technology is having in our society specifically when in comes to the dependency on it to run our lives. She says that it is affecting our personal lives which leads to it being an overall civic issue where technology has changed the substance of our days and how we relate with ourself, our children, family, and friends. Technology is very convenient and has changed our lives where we can accomplish daily task more efficiently and giving us easier access to more information than ever before. In addition social networks gives us an opportunity to stay in touch with family and friends we seldom see in addition to those of similar interest. The back lash of this is that it has consumed our lives where the more efficiently we accomplish task, the more task get added to our list. The more information we can access the more we want to know and the more we can connect with others, the more we are interested in what's going on in the lives of others. This leads to us being a society that is ran by the demands of technology and as oppose to us dictating what technology does for us. Turkle refers to phones as being "phantom limbs" where people feel as if they cannot not function without it. Even to the point where they think their phone is ringing when it actually isn't. She makes the point that "if we do not teach ourselves how to be alone, we will only know how to be lonely." In this day and age technology is a necessity, but we cannot sacrifice our natural basic needs of solitude for ourselves and giving undivided attention to those that love us. Turkle found that children are often victims of parents staying constantly connected to technology making them secondary at the dinner table, parks, sporting events, etc. leaving them feeling lonely and alone. If our children grow up in this manner then it will only get worse when they become adults due to them feeling as if this is the reality. Turkle states that children need to see adults unplugged in order to know this is possible to live life without our devices. We as a society have to take control of our lives and not allow it to be ran by the constant need to check our phones, watch social networks, and check our e-mails. Some of the suggestions were to take a social network holiday or declare e-mail bankruptcy. Whatever the strategy if we want to stay in touch with the core of our being and the moments that continue to shape or society we have to continue to treasure those moments we are allowed to just "be" and not allow technology to totally consume our being.

Perhaps should be required listening for anyone who wants to understand our culture.

Just say no. We have 2 teens in our home. No cell phone, no face book. No one has these and to be honest, no one misses them.
I do like 'podcast' as an option. If there is a show I want to listen to, but a human being is present at our home, I listen to the podcast later.
I do know how to use technology, I just choose to be sparingly

Our entire family is on the Autism spectrum. We have an advantage in that we don't have to be taught to be alone - we are not lonely just because we are alone, if anything the rest of the world forces us to be with huge numbers of people as a regular thing and then we need more alone time. Tech however has made a big difference in our community, as it enables non-speaking Autistics, or other people with disabilities that complicate speech, to communicate more conveniently, and as such has somewhat eliminated the assumption that Autistics are all stupid. The Internet has a huge community of "our people" and we know each other well, online.

Our family seems to be unusual, based on your apparent definition of normal use of technology. When I worked for a nonprofit back in the 90s, my boss offered me a cell phone. I turned him down flat, because I wanted to have my family time BE family time, At the time I had 4 kids and was pregnant. We generally do have family breakfast and supper with our 15 year old, the last child left at home.

To this day, we take a cell phone along only when needed for contact with a care provider, when needed for safety, or when we will be away for extended (like, days to weeks) time, and important calls might come through. And we have a *gasp* land line, which we treat much as my partner Rex's grandmother did in the 60s - "A telephone is a convergence. We are at supper now. It is not convenient to answer now."

Greetings, this is an interesting discussion. I am used to seeing many people who are connected to their electronic divices. Not everyone, yet, has prescribed to being continually connected but, due to the pervasiveness of technology, it is an ever growing phenomenon.

I personally have this idea about technology and it is rooted in my having grown up during the 1960's. I myself, have a desktop computer and a cell phone (that can only send and recieve phone calls and text messages). When I leave my computer desk, I am done. I take my cell phone with me but I (often) have it turned off. Oft times, I don't even turn it on until I get back home; this drives my wife (who is twelve years younger that I am) nuts.

I am not in a situation where I need to constantly be in contact with anyone. For others, this may not be the case. It has come to a point in modern society that we are comfortable with faceless communication. We function by interacting with people that we often don't see or hear. As this becomes normal, it well become harder for people to disconect.

People, perhaps at an early age, need to learn about the joys of solitude. I dont really want to discuss how this can be done or how it should be done. That being said, as people are introduced to strategies for existing in a space of solitude, it perhaps may become easier for them to disconnect without needed to fill that void with anything.

Krista, on the show today, Nov.18,2012 "Alive enough" you say that you cannot ask your children to not talk on cell phone, etc. while in car -perhaps to or from school- Krista! Who owns, pays for and keeps up the car? I have to watch out for all the people on the subway in Wash. DC who are playing with their toys and reading them on escalators - they stop just as they step off the escalator to read, text with their toys! Now there is a law suit. An old woman who falls and breaks her hip due to some )(&*&()^$%with his/her head bent down ignoring the world!

I enjoyed your program this morning during my run. I often run without NPR or music to reflect on event or problems in my life.
My family has embraced technology, especially Facebook. We adjust our privacy settings and utilize some features of Facebook to allow parents of young children to feel comfortable posting. For example, we have created private pages that are available only be invitations. These pages do not allow anyone to "share" a photo outside of the people invited to that page. You also cannot download media from this page to your personal computer. Maybe a hacker could find their way in but our families feel pretty comfortable at this time posting. So yesterday, I got to see my grandson's kindergarten photo minutes after Mom picked them up. I love this era and the freedom technology has given us to connect to old friends and stay in touch with our families and friends. However, I hate cell phones at the dinner table!

I guess what I don't understand is why so many people get seduced by these technologies. I see folks constantly fidgeting with their smart phones, tablets and what have you, and it just isn't tempting to me. My cell phone is *only* a phone. I don't own a portable computer. I don't want more technology.

Maybe if a person had a position that required being available outside the usual 8 hours a day...but otherwise, forget it. There are very few situations. So why have so many gone so overboard?

remember the song by harry chapin? cats in the cradle ... just easier, more widespread now.

I was at first surprised that your guest receives 600 e-mails per day, then I spoke (in person) with my college professor daughter who estimates she gets over one hundred e-mails most days.

Being mostly retired (I'm 65), I find my e-mail needs are minimal. I use a 'family' account which we have had since the dawn of the e-mail age, which my wife also checks. I clean out the junk about twice a month, and rely on her to notice anything directed to me; sometimes I find personal e-mails which were missed. Once I showed up for an appointment which had been cancelled by e-mail.

I am a deliberate late adapter, but I have been recently dragged into 21st century communications by my wife, (wanted a smart phone to stay in touch 18/7with students she mentors via Facebook. This lead to G-mail, then my daughter wanted us on Google Hangout. Then I discovered there are free Internet music sites e.g. Spotify, TuneIn, so I had to get on Facebook.

So I,m being drawn in, in spite of myself, but I'm trying to limit my time spent.

After listening to the show, I opened my book, A Year with Rilke (by Joanna Macy, another of your recent guests) to yesterday's reading, which is very apropos:

Orpheus, do you hear
the new sound,
droning and roaring?
Many now exult in it.

Though the Machine
insists on our praise,
who can listen
with all this noise?

See, it rolls over everything,
weakening us
and taking our place.

Since its strength is of our making,
why can't it serve
and not possess us?

Sonnets to Orpheus, I, 18

Rilke wrote this long before the internet, email, iphones, and texting. What Krista noted in a car ride with her daughter ("Be with me," Krista requested. "I am," said her daughter, while texting.), I experienced with my father many years ago. I was at college, living in St. Paul, and I would go home to St. Louis Park on Sundays, but often wondered why I bothered. My father would be in the basement in his studio, and come out long enough to greet me from the bottom of the stairs, and then go back to work, coming out only when dinner was ready or the football game had come on. Sometimes I would go down to his studio and attempt to engage him, but he would continue working. Somehow my physical proximity was important to him; it was "enough aliveness," perhaps.

So, I'm not convinced that it's the infancy of this new technology which is the problem, though I am having trouble finding the words to explain what I mean by that. We seem to keep making things which, on the face of it, look like they are meant to bring us together, and yet also have the means to separate us even more. I am as "guilty" of using technology in this way as anyone. There are times when I would much rather leave a message on an answering machine than actually have the other person pick up and force me into a conversation. My father and I have this in common—we want to connect on our terms.

Case in point...strong case! Trying to read all!! the preceding comments! Wow, this would take forever! I haven't the time to read through what in my wiser, older years, I already know...intutively, which I've allowed to develop in times of quietness, and reflection!

re parent-child togetherness and technology. I am 68 years old, pretty techno savvy, texting with children and grands is the quickest means of connecting. But here I am the parent wanting the attention of my children when we are physically together. So your guest's original premise is correct, just move it up a generation.

When I moved out of my parents house into my first independent household, I deliberately made the choice to not have a computer. I had been in the habit of spending hours online, doing things that I didn't care very much about, in much the same mindset of a who gambler keeps pulling the arm of a slot machine. I still go online, mostly at the library, but it isn't taking up my mental space in the way that it was.

I am lucky enough to have a full kitchen in our office, so one of the things I do is cook while I am working. I have also acquired three crock pots and will slow cook my dinner in one of those. I come in in the morning, put it all together, and then, however so many hours later, it's make. Of course I can smell it during the day, and I get up every once in a while to stir it, poke at it, whatever, even if I'm not supposed to.

I have created a private folder in my e-mail program called "AAA To Be Read at Some Point" (the AAA keeps it at the top of the list). If, after a week, I haven't read an e-mail, I swoop it into that folder, and maybe, some time, I will read it. I find it very useful when someone asks, "didn't you read my e-mail?" I can usually find it in case it was important.

I totally agreed with Sherry Turkle's observation about Twitter and Facebook being mostly positive messages, and making it an uncomfortable platform for things like the death of a pet, for example.
My Dad had this problem, when he was sick with cancer. He found it really not the right medium for expressing the negatives in life, like brain cancer treatment. He said that nobody really could find responses, since it was incongruous to the platform.

There was an odd discrepancy in Turkel's comments about "aliveness." She said children used to define it in terms of motility, but now define it psychologically. Yet when her daughter said a robot would serve an exhibit as well as a tortoise that wasn't moving, it sounds like she was using precisely that old derinition of aliveness in terms of (apparent) motility, rather than something's subjectivity or lack thereof.

Unintended mass production of cold-hearted kids and youth? Hope not, but…

Your “Alive Enough” discussion addressed one key issue on being human. The evidence presented suggests a very disturbing shift in the ethical foundations of children, presumably associated with their use of TIC devices. I hope, that in the future " ON BEING" will hear more about the relation between early childhood experiences (with or without TICs) and the development of empathy and a deep sense of the value of life (human and non-human). Are we witnessing an unintended mass production of cold-hearted kids and youth? It would be troubling even if it compromised 1 or 2% of them.

I hope this kind of research (by Sherry Turkle/MIT and others) will help us understand and prevent the development of children and youth who disregard the value of life (human and non-human). e.g.:

Congrats ON BEING, excellent program. C.V. Bethesda, MD

Thank you for this interview. As I was listening I kept thinking about Howard Rheingold's book called Net Smart: How to Thrive Online. His book discusses many of the same themes, especially about being intentional when you use technology and social media. He suggests that deciding what your purpose is before you log on can help you find this balance the Turkle talks about. No matter where you are on the technology/social media spectrum, his book has insights about ways to become an empowered participant rather than "multitasking basket cases". I will be fascinated to observe my second grader and members of his generation help to shape the way we all connect and share knowledge as the internet matures. look forward to reading Turkle's book.

During the show Sherry states that we are letting technology shape us and it is affecting our attention, our relationships and our sense of reality. Says our technology (ie: cell phones) are almost another limb of our body. Which I find to be valid, I never go anywhere without my phone.

She says that the internet is still in the baby stage, it still has a long way to come. I am sure that this is true. The internet has advanced so quickly over the last decade; it is wild to think about how much things will change in the next ten years.

We don’t seem to have a taste to stop and ask “how can we make technology work for us”.

They are working on having robots provide care and/or companionship for the elderly or children. The question is are they alive enough to do these types of things? After doing studies and asking people Sherry found that kids don’t think that it is important for these things to be alive. She thinks that this is quite disturbing. I also see where this is an issue because computers do not have emotions and I feel that to provide care for children and elderly people there needs to be emotion.

It is not just the kids on their phones all the time it is adults and parents too on their phones at the dinner tables. It is hurtful for the kids because they feel that they are not getting the attention that they need form their parents if they are the ones on the phone all of the time. It is important to set boundaries for the use of technology and make time with your family and friends.

After interviewing children Sherry found that eye contact with parents is very important to kids. Kids crave attention from their parents and she saw kids on the playground begging for their parent’s attention and they were on their phones. THIS IS SAD TO ME. These parents are leading their kids to feel lonely and they are setting a bad example for them as well.

Don’t take your phone all of the time when you leave the house. Give yourself a break from your phone and Facebook. We are living the “only on” life style. It is important to be alone in our head and to think for ourselves instead of always being influenced by others all of the time. We seem to expect more from technology and less from each other. People are interacting with each other less and less in person.

For all of these reasons I think it is good to be proactive because technology is growing more and more and it is a good thing to be aware of the effects that technology has on our lives.

One thing that I found interesting was a study that showed teenagers can feel when their mobile phones are ringing even when the phone is in their locker. This shows how important cell phones are and how people love their phones nowadays. To me, I think phones are good, but it is also sad to think that friends who are sitting next to each other are texting instead of talking. I think this is not good because interpersonal communication is way better than just words on the screen without and tone, pitch, and facial expressions.

Another thing that struck me is that Sherry Turkle pointed out since computers came out, kids don’t care about whether they are communicating with a live person or not. They don’t think it is important to have face to face communications. Also, I thought this showed how teenagers are using their cell phones or other devices too much which drives their parents crazy. But, it was actually surprising to hear that adults use more technology and that they don’t communicate with their children. “It ended up that it was a story of parents — as much a story of parents leaving their children feeling lonely and alone and modeling the very behavior that they came to find irritating in their children.”

I learned that as a parent or an adult, we should be a model to the younger generation and that it is okay to go somewhere without our phone. Because we are on the phone all the time and have no time to care for and communicate with our family, the children will adapt our behavior and ending up disconnected with their families. I think it is something important to do as an adult to model good habits and behavior.

Having read this I believed it was very informative. I appreciate you spending some time and energy to put this article together. I once again find myself spending way too much time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worth it!

I choose to listen to this podcast because I am one of the many today that takes part in online education, which relies almost solely on technology. I personally think the technology we have is mind blowing, and yet in this podcast they keep referring to the internet as being in an infancy stage. You can find anything on the internet now, even the Bible is completely viewable online, it does not seem like something that is still young. This interview is only from 2011, if we are in the infancy stage of the internet, how much more is going to be available at our fingertips in the next decade?

Taking online classes is proof to me that we can lead examined lives with our technology which is something both Sherry Turkle and host, Krista Tippett keep coming back to. We can use technology to improve our lives by incredible amounts, if we use it the right way. However, our cell phones have become our “phantom limbs”, they are always near us. We find it hard to be away from them for any period of time, but from Sherry Turkle’s research, this is hurting personal relationships. She is calling for families to have sacred places, where they disconnect from technology so they can truly connect to one another. The main place children see this as important, according to research, is at the dinner table.

She tells a story of a boy whose mother spends hours making four course meals every day, and during the meals the father does not look away from his blackberry. The son tries to make a compromise with both parents, if mom makes shorter meals, will the father put away his blackberry at the table? I think this is such a sad situation. I myself make it a point to not have my phone on me when I am eating a meal with my family, but outside of my family I know many people who will eat a meal with people they care about and still their phone will not escape their grasp. I don’t think we realize how hard it is to focus on our surroundings and those around us when we are plugged into our technological devices.

Technology goes 24/7, we cannot. We should not try to keep up with it; we are losing our personal relationships according to this podcast by trying to keep up. Setting boundaries with technology can improve relationships. This being said, we can use technology for such incredible thing, for instance, we can now get an education solely online. At any time we can look up anything we seek to know more about and their is an abundance of material easily found to allow us to learn. I hate technology sometimes, I see that it is changing society as a whole but it is a beautiful thing when used the right way. At the end of the program Krista Tippett asks “what are you doing to lead an examined digital life?” I think we need to think deeply about how we use technology in a positive way and how we can retreat from it for periods of time to be more connected to the world around you.


Voices on the Radio

is Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT. She's the founder and director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. Her books include Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other.

Production Credits

Host/Producer: Krista Tippett

Senior Editor: Trent Gilliss

Senior Producer: David McGuire

Technical Director/Producer: Chris Heagle

Associate Producer: Susan Leem

Producer: Nancy Rosenbaum

Coordinating Producer: Stefni Bell

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