When was the last time you checked that phone in your pocket? What about Facebook? When was your last post?
Have you stopped to think about how these technologies have changed your behaviour, and the way you interact with others?
The death of conversation and other social skills
Texting probably hasn’t been good for your grammar, spelling and punctuation skills, if you are completely honest.
Yet, some of the changes are for the better. For example, if you are running late you can now call or text ahead, so that the other person isn’t left hanging.
The flip side is, punctuality is a now thing of the past. It is almost expected that a text will arrive to say the other person is running late.
When you do find yourself waiting at a cafe for someone to turn up, do you:
- sit there and watch the world go by?
- strike up conversation with the waiter?
- grab a device to send an email, text or update Facebook?
Chances are you do the latter. It’s better to look busy rather than alone, right?
But is being busy better than having a conversation? Has texting and social media status updates, usually written in short snippets, killed our ability to engage in a real conversation?
This TED video asks many questions and challenges you to be honest with your answers.
In her compelling presentation, Sherry Turkle, Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT, explores how we have changed due to technology in the past 15 years.
And it’s not a happy story.
She tells us about the highly desirable skill of being able to make eye contact while texting. She questions why robots being developed that appear to listen to us, in order to replace real interaction and empathy.
She questions whether embracing technology has resulted in nothing more than a fabricated version of ourselves — one where we are more fun, more controlled but, in reality, more contrived. We get to edit before we comment, we get to alter our photographs and present an online persona of the person we might like to be, rather than who we are.
What does this mean for entrepreneurs?
Many ideas being explored right now are based around these connection-making, socially created technologies. So, we should question whether this same technology is creating mass isolation and loneliness.
Have we lost the art of communicating, and made a conversation something to be feared?
Do I hear the cry of ‘first world problem’? Sure.
But it’s a thought provoking presentation filled with questions that do need to be asked.