Sherry Turkle writes as though digital life is something that happens to other people. But it isn't. It's something we create.
The most powerful part of Turkle's argument, in her book as well as in her recent piece, come when she shifts back into the first person: "we have confused conversation with connection"; "we flee from solitude"; "we expect more from technology and less from one another". In these pronouns, and in these observations, lie the potential for conscious choices about how to engage online, and how to create online lives that support both conversation and connection.
We can have what Turkle terms a "big gulp of real conversation" -- through a chat window that keeps us connected, all day, to a best friend on the other side of the country. We can embrace the value of solitude and self-reflection, writing a blog post that digs deeply into a personal challenge -- perhaps choosing to write anonymously in order to share a deeper level of self-revelation than we'd brave offline. We can truly listen, and truly be heard, because online affinity groups help us find or rediscover friends who are prepared to meet us as we really are.
These are the tools, practices, and communities that can make online life not a flight from conversation, but a flight to it. But we will not realize these opportunities as long as we cling to a nostalgia for conversation as we remember it, describe the emergence of digital culture in generational terms, or absolve ourselves of responsibility for creating an online world in which meaningful connection is the norm rather than the exception. We are making that digital shift together -- old and young, geeky and trepidatious -- and we are only as alone as we choose to be.
For details: http://bit.ly/HVB8PH
Via Raffaele Nappi