After graduating from Lake Forest College with a B.A. in Communication and Sociology & Anthropology, I gained a lot of interest for digital innovation and the effect it has on our society. Sherry Turkle came to speak at my college during my Junior year and, unfortunately, I missed it because I was stuck in a night class (out of all things!). Luckily, my boyfriend was able to attend and told me all about Reclaiming Conversation.
With all of the academic reading I had, it wasn't until about two years later that I had time to sit down and read Sherry Turkle's book. I found myself sitting on a Metra train in Chicago one day scrolling through Instagram on my iPhone when it hit me that I had completely removed myself from my surroundings. Where did the days go when I would get lost in my imagination and ponder on my emotions. I realized that I, too, are a victim to the digital world we live in. While social media can be fun, too much can also be a bad thing.
What I love about Sherry's book is that she truly dives into the relationships that define our social being. How do we handle friendships, family, work, and romantic relationships? Why should we let our iPhones or Microsoft computers separate us from the ones we love most? Stripping it down, here are my main takeaways from Sherry's book.
"Intelligence...it used to include sensibility, sensitivity, awareness, discernment, reason, acumen and wit."
How many times have we been right next to our friends or family and looked down at our phones? Probably a few too many. Sherry points out that the average American looks at their smartphones every six seconds. Six seconds! Instead of showing our attentiveness or embracing quality moments, we feel comfortable sharing words through text and email. Empathy is becoming lost at home.
So what should we do to fix this? Put the phone down. Next time you're eating dinner with your family/friends, put your phones away. Focus on being in the moment. Ask questions like "How was your day?". It's the simple notions like these that will rejuvenate empathy and allow you to embrace the relationships that mean most to you.
How do we feel fulfilled at work? It's a question that I'm positive every other LinkedIn article is trying to find an answer to. When you come home from work, how do you reflect? Think about what you do in one day: Did you connect with people in person? Were you distracted by your email or meeting notes on your laptop while doing so?
It's no lie that digital technology is a large part of our work. However, if you lack the ability to connect with your co-workers or customers, you won't be successful in creating a sense of loyalty and trust. This novel encourages readers to have face-to-face conversations in the workplace, especially for difficult conversations. It all comes back to empathy! Practice it, live it, indulge in it.
When I came across the first page of the 'Romance' section, I found my new favorite quote, "True love is a lack of desire to check one's smartphone in another's presence" by Alain de Botton. True but sad, this quote reflects our current digital environment. How many times have you found yourself checking Instagram or text messages while on a date? How is it that we look forward to spending time with our loved ones and completely dismiss their presence at the same time?
Unfortunately, this has stretched to multiple areas of relationships--a big one being during times of disagreement. We have trained ourselves to avoid difficult conversations by texting "I'm sorry", rather than saying it face-to-face. Romantic relationships may be one of the most emotional in our lives, so it is important that we absorb each other's emotion and words. How do we read tone through text messages? Can we believe what we see on Instagram to be true? Being absorbed in our digital environment creates separation in our romantic relationships.
So next time you're with your loved one, just remember: "True love is a lack of desire to check one's smartphone in another's presence".