So I was continuing my journey through Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together:Why We Expect More From Technology and Less from Each Other on some flights the last couple of days. Fascinating stuff. Turkle is a brilliant thinker and expert in robotics. She is a professor of Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT. I like that title. . . .we need critics who look carefully at how science and technology are shaping us and our interactions with each other and the world. Turkle asks good – and difficult – questions. I like that as well. At least we know someone is thinking about what all this tech stuff and social media we embrace with such reckless abandon might be doing to us.
I’ve been running across all kinds of stuff in this book that makes me pause and ponder. . . Turkle says that we feel “enhanced” by all this technology and our time online. . . . “technological promiscuity” she calls it. She asks, “Technology reshapes the landscapes of our emotional lives, but is it offering us the lives we want to lead?” Hmmmm.
As I put Turkle’s book away with those thoughts fresh on mind and we prepared for landing, I pulled the ever-present SKY MALL catalog out of the seat pocket. Anybody out there every buy anything from it? I flipped through and could hardly keep from laughing out loud at some of the stuff for sale. But is it really that funny?
One of the first things I saw is this little beauty. Promising “euphoria” for only $79.95, the Soma Wave Helmet looks like a miracle. Just don’t put it on while operating heavy machinery! Yep, you’ve got to love that warning. I guess our everyday stress and tension-filled lives have brought us to this. Maybe if we powered-down and un-tethered for awhile we’d face the prospect of not being $80 poorer.
Then I saw the Seal Shield. Thank God that someone came up with this thing! We’re so tethered and tech-dependent now that we need something to protect our iPads from the damaging effects of saltwater when we decide to put on a business suite and take a dip in the ocean. . . with our iPad. Really???
Sherry Turkle takes a well-reasoned and academic look at the human condition and what we’re doing to ourselves. Sky Mall is putting some meat on those bones. Log off. Power down. Then, think about it.