“Smile…Say cheese!” said the woman holding the cell phone aloft.
The family members huddled together at the beach for the lasting memory.Then each of them went back to watching their own little screens in solitude. No verbal exchange of any kind. No contemplation of Nature. Just gawking.
In her new book, Sherry Turkle, a clinical psychologist and sociologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), asserts that our transformation into “device people” has happened with unprecedented suddenness since the introduction of the iPhones in June 2007, followed by Android a year later.
We clutch our smartphones because we feel safer, more productive and less bored. Turkle says that the digital media put people in a “comfort zone” where they believe they can share “just the right amount” of themselves. The firm eMarketer states that Americans spend an average of five and a half hours with digital media, more than half of that time on mobile devices.
The frequency of digital connection is much higher in the 15-25 years of age group . As a result Turkle affirms that as they are not learning how to be alone, the young people are losing their ability to empathize. She says that “it’s the capacity for solitude that allows you to reach out to others and see them as separate and independent.” They have a “disconnection anxiety.”
Turkle says that for young people the art of friendship is increasingly the art of dividing your attention in an efficient way to get the best online impact. The only thing they almost never do is to actually speak to one another. They believe that the back-and-forth of unrehearsed real-time conversation makes them “vulnerable” and exposes them to the risk of “social censoring.”
Nir Eyal, a game designer and professor of “applied consumer psychology” at Stanford University, wrote that any successful app creates a “behavioural loop”—it both triggers a need and provides the momentary solution to it. A social network like Facebook encourages “FOMO”—fear of missing out. One’s social status is related to the numbers of likes, comments and friends. Our self-esteem is hopelessly dependent on others’ input.
What do you think? Please tell us.
Don’t leave me alone.