After reading Sherry Turkle’s “The Flight from Conversation,” I immediately thought “Wow, this is so true!” However, after viewing Michael Wesch’s Ted Talk: From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-Able, I found myself repeating the same statement. Each of them has a significant view of the role that technology plays in society today. I believe that both Turkle and Wesch are partially allies in the sense that they are both strong advocates of the role that technology plays in the modern day world; however they also have strong opposing viewpoints.
Turkle states that in today’s society we are essentially sacrificing conversations for connections. Instead of having intellectually stimulating conversations, we are having brief interactions with people who hardly know us other than what we portray on our social media profile, which is how we “want” to define ourselves. She emphasizes that face to face conversations teach us patience in order to listen to one another’s ideas, however instead we are posting how we feel and waiting for others to comment on our statements. One example she provides is the mentality that some have where they lament by saying, “No one is listening to me,” and in order to solve this loneliness, they turn to Twitter, Facebook, or other social media sites. As time passes, we expect more from technology and less from one another. I was particularly disheartened when Turkel was saying how robots are replacing humans and gave one example of how a woman was devastated by the passing of child and that she was comforted by the look in the eyes of the robot in the form of a seal. There was also talk about the hopes that as Apple’s IPhone becomes more advanced, Siri will become more like a best friend.
Throughout the article, the overall message was that as humans we are desperate to connect through our devices. Turkel describes how we are distracted by the use of our phones and other devices around us. This immediately made me think of one friend in particular. Every time we are in the middle of a conversation and her phone goes off, she cannot resist the urge to check it. She does not think anything of it, but continues to talk and states, “I’m still listening to you, but I just need to text this person back.” Again, this reverts back to the constant need to be connected to what else is happening around us.
On the other hand, Wesch embraces this sudden shift in technology. He describes media by saying, “Media are not tools or means of communication, but media mediates relationships.” There are differences in the types of media. For example, television is considered a one-way conversation whereas other forms of media like music are effective and considered more than just a conversation. There is a need for critical thinking skills and for students today to embrace real problems and act as seekers of meaning. One particular use of technology that I found to be powerful was when messages could be sent from Haiti to an open street map to cite an area where a tragic event is occurring and send out the news to others.
Overall, I view Wesch and Turkle as opponents in the discussion of new media and technology because of their distinct viewpoints. They both have solid reasons for their opinions on technology, therefore I find myself agreeing with both of them. Technology is important for students to develop their critical thinking skills; however it is important to keep in mind that technology should not consume their lives. I believe that a balance should be created between both Turkle and Wesch’s perspectives to ensure a happy medium.