I recently re-watched Sherry Turkle’s talk “Connected, but alone?” and I was struck by a large number of things that Sherry talked about. Basically, what I got out of the talk, is that technology (specifically mobile devices) is changing how people socialize and how technology has allowed us humans to embrace our fantasy of control.
Screen time interaction does not allow use to read people; we can’t see how they’re standing or what their body language is saying, and we can’t take cues if we only see the person on a screen.
It is one thing when an adult chooses to interact with people via a screen, but it is difficult for someone who is developing (like our students) to learn how to read body language that they rarely see. Adults (including us brave teachers) model behavior that our kids see and often replicate. That is why face to face interaction with real (non-screen) people is so important- not only are we fueling our need to socialize and alleviating loneliness, but we never know who is watching and copying our behavior.
In addition to the lack of body language knowledge, today’s kids don’t know how to be alone without being lonely. They (I shouldn’t use the word, but it is convenient and it applies to myself as well) don’t know how to be without a device that constantly connects them to the world around them. They see a beautiful landscape and the first action is to pull out the device and capture the image. And, being alone seems to be a problem in need of fixing, instead of a state for reflection and relaxation.
This unability (I am making that a word, for now) to be alone and unplugged means that often, today, we prefer online interactions because it gives us a semblance of control. We can control where the conversation goes, how we are portrayed, and if things don’t look well, we can delete and edit.
What are some things we can do to alleviate some of these problems, especially in our own lives?
- Create sacred spaces in our homes (mine are at the dining room table during meals, and the bedroom)
- take a digital sabbath (it doesn’t even have to be a whole day- just an hour or two, or a period of time!)
- Be mindful. Reflect on your day, your week, your month, or even, your year. Take time to wind down, relax, and be you.