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Are Digital Devices Killing Conversation?

April 24, 2012, 12:59 PM

What's the Latest Development?

MIT psychologist Sherry Turkle says that digital devices are transforming our communication habits for the worse, making the kinds of conversation that humans depend on for social support, and self-reflection, rarer than ever. Not only do we immerse ourselves in our devices but we turn to them, rather than people, when we feel lonely. Turkle says that younger generations have all but lost the capacity to feel self-assured when they are away from their social group, preferring to connect all the time which, says Turkle, means conversing none of the time.   

What's the Big Idea?

Alexandra Samuel, professor of social media at Emily Carr University in Vancouver, rebuts Turkle's arguments. Samuel says that looking at the communication tendencies of one generation versus another is to miss the obvious point that new technology affects everyone, not just whippersnappers. Chat windows, blogs and affinity groups are all vehicles for real conservation, not just desperate and superficial connections. "We are making that digital shift togetherold and young, geeky and trepidatiousand we are only as alone as we choose to be."

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