Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, by Sherry Turkle (2011)

Genre: Nonfiction
Interest level: Adult
Alone Together This is the first of several nonfiction titles I’m reading this fall, in the interest of professional development. Turkle is a professor at MIT, having spent her career examining the psychology of technology. It’s her third monograph, and it feels like two books in one. She spends half the book (Part One) obsessing about robots and human companionship. After about 50 pages I skipped to Part Two, which was a lot more interesting. Or at least, it has more legs. The robot thing gets really tired after a while – you’ve made your point, Dr. Sherry. Move on. But in the second section, she does a great job of showing how in turning to technology to save time and connect more, we are connecting less with the people around us. Texting parents ignore children; children screen their parents’ calls; teens on facebook agonize over their profiles while unable to engage in face to face chat. Forget letters; people don’t phone each other. While she overstates her case somewhat, I would argue, the book (at least the second half) does give you pause and reason to ponder as you watch the engaged/disengaged all around you. It’s not too late – she makes a plea for us all to find a balance.
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