Technology: The Monster of Tomorrow
Sherry Turkle saw the truth about our society that many are too blind to realize; people are replacing one another with technology. Future generations should be aware of how much they rely on technology. Today’s society relies so much on technology and less on one another that we are living in times that ultimately leaves us “alone together.” We should be fearful for a world satisfied with the “companionship” of a computer versus from another person because mankind will become hermits. Sherry Turkle opens her book with the chapter “Nearest Neighbors”, in this chapter she introduces us to ELIZA and Tamagotchis.ELIZA was a program that engaged in conversing with humans. Although ELIZA really did not really comprehend the discussion the program would use world play and simply just restate what was said in question form, and this made humans feel as if they could confide in ELIZA. Children are growing up believing inanimate objects possess qualities that make them alive; toys like the Tamagothi and Furby require so much attention from children they seem to forget they are not alive but instead running on batteries. Certain “Robots” cause children at young ages to feel connected. When I was a child AOL had popular robot instantmessangers that my friends and I would use. These instantmessangers were very similar to ELIZA; although we knew they were not real we still conversed as if they were real people talking to us. My friends and I’s feelings closely relate to those of the Weizenbaum student’s. “I have watched hundreds of people type a first sentence into the primitive ELIZA program. Most commonly began with “How are you today?” or “Hello.” But four or five interchanges later, many are on to “My girlfriend left me,” “I am worried that I might fail organic chemistry,” or “My sister died.”(23.) When I communicated with theses “robots” similar to ELIZA I would also confess my heart even though they could not show back any true emotion. I owned aTamagotchi when I was a child and I can relate to personifying it like the children Turkle wrote about . “When a digital ‘creature’ asks children for nurturing or teaching, it seems alive enough to care for, just as caring for it makes it seem more alive” (31). By making technology seem “alive enough”, will this make people build bonds with them versus with one another?
Parents should be aware that this is a serious issue at hand; if this trend continues people will in a way become hermits because they will be so wrapped up in their technology they will never leave the cyber world. Turkle’s chapter “Always On” discussed cyber games and the affect they play on people. Cyber games like the Sims can leave a child hidden away in their room for hours. These cyber games allow people to create their own world and run it however they please, and not only are they creating their own world but also creating alter egos. “But is loving your life as an avatar the same as loving your life in the real? (193)” These cyber worlds create a problem with losing the fine line between the real and the fake. I can personally say I have found myself locking myself away from everyone to play this addicting game. People becoming obsessive and shutting themselves out can take away important interactions needed with others. “The networks effects on today’s young people are paradoxical. Networking makes it easier to play with identity for example by experimenting with an avatar that is interestingly different from you but harder to leave the past behind, because the internet is forever (169.)” If children continue to be so in sync with their technology they will begin to shut themselves out from the rest of the world. Depending on technology for communication will lead to us forgetting how to interact with each other.
In Always On Sherry also looked at how we are always on some sort of technology, and the amount of communication we have with one another depends on how much technology will let us. I believe where Sherry is trying to get at is how we could sit in the same room as someone and still feel the need to text them versus just speaking out loud. This creates problems with learning how to speak to one another. Texting what we feel allows us time to contemplate on what we plan on saying. In the real world we need to be able to talk with one another without having long breaks in-between each statement, and always texting will make us forget how to actually converse with one another. Choosing to text our feelings versus speaking makes actual conversations awkward and makes it virtually impossible to actually get to know someone because one cannot really build a relationship through text. Only communicating through text will result in not functioning in life properly.
This book forewarns the readers what can become of us if we abuse technology. I have watched my siblings grow up and I can see how throughout the years with the advancement in technology is changing how they live their lives. The older two are more active with people around them because of having to do so when they were children, whereas the younger ones rather play with their fancy up to date games. The future generations should look at today’s world and realizes they must make changes so they do not continue to fall deeper into technology and forget what it is like to actually live.