“Reclaiming the Conversation” and Lecture

Ryan McCann

Dr. Lay

WSC 002

February 27th

“Reclaiming the Conversation” and Lecture

While reading from Sherry Turkle’s Reclaiming the Conversation I found points that I disagreed with more than things that I had agreed with. She argued that phones are making us less social and that people aren’t paying as much attention to each other as they used to and how this is affecting families in our American culture. Turkle writes “So children, from the earliest stages, complain about having to compete with smart phones for their parents’ attention. – An eight year old boy gets up from the table and tugs at his mothers sleeve when she takes out her phone during the meal. ‘No. Not now. Not now!’ he pleads. As she turns back to her child, the mother says, ‘Mommy has to make a quick call.’ The boy returns to his chair, sullen. (104)” This little story that Turkle tells might be accurate in some cases but most parents have reasons to take phone calls; such as business or important family matters. No good parent would neglect their child to call their friend to gossip or talk about their day. I did agree with this point to a certain extent though, since many families are definitely less social than they used to be with each other, however I don’t think it’s as bad as Turkle makes it out to be.

Shortly after the point previously stated, Turkle wrote about parents using their phones instead of spending time with their kids, she then says “Families tell me they like to have their arguments through text, email, and Gchat – that this helps them express themselves more precisely.” I enjoyed this quote because I agree with the families that have arguments like this. If done correctly this is a great way to make sure that arguments don’t get too heated and that people feelings don’t get hurt. This also helps ensure that the arguers think about what they say before they type it instead of just blurting out the first thing they think of.

After attending the presentation that Turkle gave here at Hofstra, my stance changed on the subject that she was discussing. I was completely opposed to her views on technology after reading the excerpt from Reclaiming the Conversation, this was most likely since I read the excerpt in a different tone than how she intended to write it. She started the presentation by emphasizing that she is not anti-technology. She couldn’t stress this enough and this made me skeptical. I wanted her to explain herself. I was pleasantly surprised at the arguments she was making for technology, but what really stuck with me was that she was now able to explain herself and share her experiences so that I better understood them. One experience that I remember her sharing is that while some of her students were sharing very intense stories bout their lives before attending MIT and struggling to make it there, other students were on their phones or computers not really paying attention. Hearing this I was a little shocked. MIT students, some of the smartest people in the country, were on their phones during class and not listening to their peers’ stories? Stories about their resilience and how they overcame the struggles in their lives to get to where they are now. These stories should be so intriguing to these bright young minds but instead they’re on their phones not listening to their peers.

Another example that she gives is when her colleagues get together for a department meeting, they all greet each other warmly and then sit down and open their computers instead of conversing until the meeting officially starts. Then afterwards they text and drive in the parking lot. This seems like it would be very upsetting for Turkle, and understandably so. Some of the greatest minds in the country are doing something as silly as texting and driving. These two points that she made proved to me that she really is pro technology but only if it’s used correctly. For educational purposes, communication, to keep up with current events, and things of that sort. Not while someone else is talking or when you’re with a friend one on one having a conversation.

Although when I read the excerpt from Reclaiming the Conversation, I had ideals that disagreed with Turkle, I overall enjoyed the article since I see technology as helping people become more social as long as it’s in moderation and doesn’t consume us as a society. This seems to be the main idea that she was talking about during her presentation here at Hofstra; use technology, but don’t let it take away from personal interaction.


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