Reading Response To Sherry Turkle’s Always-On/Always-On-You Essay Examples
Sherry Turkle is a professor in the Social Studies of Science and Technology department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Turkle earned her a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Studies and a Ph. D. in Sociology and Personality Psychology. Turkle’s interest include human interaction, technology, and psychology, specifically psychoanalysis. For this reason, Turkle’s research mostly focus on the impact of technology on human interaction and the psychology behind the intentions and motivations of technology-based human interactions.
In Always-On/Always-On-You: The Tethered Self, Turkle explores human being’s relationship with technology. Turkle argues that our daily use of technology illustrates that we are tethered to technology, particularly to devices that allow us to communicate or access the Internet in real time. Turkle describes this phenomenon as “always-on/always-on-us” whereby individuals are always on, meaning always online, and bring their communications devices with them at all times, meaning our devices are always on us.
Consequently, our relationship with our devices raises the value and significance of what we do with these objects. Human beings, for instance, use their devices to go online through the Internet for various reasons – to browse data or information, read and send electronic mail, chat with other people through instant messengers, and play games, among others. Since many people bring their devices with them, they do these activities constantly, often relying on online interactions and transactions. As a result, constant use of technology and the Internet increases their value and significance. The effect of this phenomenon on human interactions, according to Turkle, is that constant online communication affects how we value people. We place merit and importance on the people that we constantly communicate with online compared to those we communicate with in person.
In a way, Turkle seemed to criticize the culture and quality or nature of human interactions based on our connection and dependence on technology and the Internet. Turkle cited how public spaces today illustrates our connectedness online as well as our disconnectedness in person. In trains, for instance, the experience is no longer about travelling from one place to another with other people. On the contrary, trains nowadays are full of people looking at their devices, checking social media, reading the news, or chatting with other people online. Turkle argued that we converse with people online wherever we are but we are no longer compelled to converse with other people we physically meet or see in our daily lives. People are disembodied individuals who exist in cyberspaces but not in public spaces because they are physically distant from other people.
Turkle also discussed how people’s use of technology contribute to people’s image and value or worth. According to Turkle, our relationships online has become our source of self-worth. This is evident in the way that people see other individuals who are constantly using their devices all day. People who receive many phone calls or messages, for instance, are viewed by society as people of importance. Having one’s devices present at all times means that people have a solid network. On the contrary, individuals who do not use their devices often are not that ‘well-connected’ in the public sphere.
Overall, the culture brought about by technology, according to Turkle, made online social networks a source of validation for people. I agree with Turkle’s argument. Our social media practices alone prove that social networking has become a major source of validation for people, has taken away people’s attention from others, and occupies people’s time instead of one-on-one and personal communication with other people. Hence, we see that technology has changed our personal interactions because it has influenced the way we communicate with other people, our relationships with other people, how we conduct ourselves in public, and the way that place value on other people in person and online. Nowadays, the value or importance of people depend on their online popularity – how many ‘liked’ or shared their posts on Facebook and Instagram, how many followers they have on Twitter, or how many views their videos have on YouTube. In the real world, people give less importance to people who are not often online or who do not have a strong online presence. In addition, our interactions in the real world is often motivated by how we can share it online. When we meet family and friends, we need to document them through pictures, videos, and check-ins to different places.
Based on Turkle’s arguments in the article, the author does not offer a biased view or perspective of the issue. Not only did Turkle cite different studies on technology and human interaction but also used different truthful and observable experiences to prove the author’s arguments. Hence, the article may be viewed simply as a means of presenting events or phenomenon that occur in the real world. For this reason, the author did not present a biased perspective but discussed the issue from different angles as supported by data or evidence from research studies and by various examples that we may observe in real life.
Turkle, Sherry. “Always-on/Always-on-you: The Tethered Self.” In Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, James E. Katz (ed). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008.
Katz, James E., ed. Machines that Become US: The Social Context of Personal Communication Technology. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 2003.
Katz, James E. Magic in the Air: Mobile Communication and the Transformation of Social Life. New Brunswick, N. J.: Transaction, 2006.