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Just a moment ago,
my daughter Rebecca texted me for good luck.
Her text said,
"Mom, you will rock."
I love this.
Getting that text
was like getting a hug.
And so there you have it.
I embody
the central paradox.
I'm a woman
who loves getting texts
who's going to tell you
that too many of them can be a problem.
Actually that reminder of my daughter
brings me to the beginning of my story.
1996, when I gave my first TEDTalk,
Rebecca was five years old
and she was sitting right there
in the front row.
I had just written a book
that celebrated our life on the internet
and I was about to be on the cover
of Wired magazine.
In those heady days,
we were experimenting
with chat rooms and online virtual communities.
We were exploring different aspects of ourselves.
And then we unplugged.
I was excited.
And, as a psychologist, what excited me most
was the idea
that we would use what we learned in the virtual world
about ourselves, about our identity,
to live better lives in the real world.
Now fast-forward to 2012.
I'm back here on the TED stage again.
My daughter's 20. She's a college student.
She sleeps with her cellphone,
so do I.
And I've just written a new book,
but this time it's not one
that will get me on the cover
of Wired magazine.
So what happened?
I'm still excited by technology,
but I believe,
and I'm here to make the case,
that we're letting it take us places
that we don't want to go.
Over the past 15 years,
I've studied technologies of mobile communication
and I've interviewed hundreds and hundreds of people,
young and old,
about their plugged in lives.
And what I've found
is that our little devices,
those little devices in our pockets,
are so psychologically powerful
that they don't only change what we do,
they change who we are.
Some of the things we do now with our devices
are things that, only a few years ago,
we would have found odd
or disturbing,
but they've quickly come to seem familiar,
just how we do things.
So just to take some quick examples:
People text or do email
during corporate board meetings.
They text and shop and go on Facebook
during classes, during presentations,
actually during all meetings.
People talk to me about the important new skill
of making eye contact
while you're texting.
People explain to me
that it's hard, but that it can be done.
Parents text and do email
at breakfast and at dinner
while their children complain
about not having their parents' full attention.
But then these same children
deny each other their full attention.
This is a recent shot
of my daughter and her friends
being together
while not being together.
And we even text at funerals.
I study this.
We remove ourselves
from our grief or from our revery
and we go into our phones.
Why does this matter?
It matters to me
because I think we're setting ourselves up for trouble --
trouble certainly
in how we relate to each other,
but also trouble
in how we relate to ourselves
and our capacity for self-reflection.
We're getting used to a new way
of being alone together.
People want to be with each other,
but also elsewhere --
connected to all the different places they want to be.
People want to customize their lives.
They want to go in and out of all the places they are
because the thing that matters most to them
is control over where they put their attention.
So you want to go to that board meeting,
but you only want to pay attention
to the bits that interest you.
And some people think that's a good thing.
But you can end up
hiding from each other,
even as we're all constantly connected to each other.
A 50-year-old business man
lamented to me
that he feels he doesn't have colleagues anymore at work.
When he goes to work, he doesn't stop by to talk to anybody,
he doesn't call.
And he says he doesn't want to interrupt his colleagues
because, he says, "They're too busy on their email."
But then he stops himself
and he says, "You know, I'm not telling you the truth.
I'm the one who doesn't want to be interrupted.
I think I should want to,
but actually I'd rather just do things on my Blackberry."
Across the generations,
I see that people can't get enough of each other,
if and only if
they can have each other at a distance,
in amounts they can control.
I call it the Goldilocks effect:
not too close, not too far,
just right.
But what might feel just right
for that middle-aged executive
can be a problem for an adolescent
who needs to develop face-to-face relationships.
An 18-year-old boy
who uses texting for almost everything
says to me wistfully,
"Someday, someday,
but certainly not now,
I'd like to learn how to have a conversation."
When I ask people
"What's wrong with having a conversation?"
People say, "I'll tell you what's wrong with having a conversation.
It takes place in real time
and you can't control what you're going to say."
So that's the bottom line.
Texting, email, posting,
all of these things
let us present the self as we want to be.
We get to edit,
and that means we get to delete,
and that means we get to retouch,
the face, the voice,
the flesh, the body --
not too little, not too much,
just right.
Human relationships
are rich and they're messy
and they're demanding.
And we clean them up with technology.
And when we do,
one of the things that can happen
is that we sacrifice conversation
for mere connection.
We short-change ourselves.
And over time,
we seem to forget this,
or we seem to stop caring.
I was caught off guard
when Stephen Colbert
asked me a profound question,
a profound question.
He said, "Don't all those little tweets,
don't all those little sips
of online communication,
add up to one big gulp
of real conversation?"
My answer was no,
they don't add up.
Connecting in sips may work
for gathering discreet bits of information,
they may work for saying, "I'm thinking about you,"
or even for saying, "I love you," --
I mean, look at how I felt
when I got that text from my daughter --
but they don't really work
for learning about each other,
for really coming to know and understand each other.
And we use conversations with each other
to learn how to have conversations
with ourselves.
So a flight from conversation
can really matter
because it can compromise
our capacity for self-reflection.
For kids growing up,
that skill is the bedrock of development.
Over and over I hear,
"I would rather text than talk."
And what I'm seeing
is that people get so used to being short-changed
out of real conversation,
so used to getting by with less,
that they've become almost willing
to dispense with people altogether.
So for example,
many people share with me this wish,
that some day a more advanced version of Siri,
the digital assistant on Apple's iPhone,
will be more like a best friend,
someone who will listen
when others won't.
I believe this wish
reflects a painful truth
that I've learned in the past 15 years.
That feeling that no one is listening to me
is very important
in our relationships with technology.
That's why it's so appealing
to have a Facebook page
or a Twitter feed --
so many automatic listeners.
And the feeling that no one is listening to me
make us want to spend time
with machines that seem to care about us.
We're developing robots,
they call them sociable robots,
that are specifically designed to be companions --
to the elderly,
to our children,
to us.
Have we so lost confidence
that we will be there for each other?
During my research
I worked in nursing homes,
and I brought in these sociable robots
that were designed to give the elderly
the feeling that they were understood.
And one day I came in
and a woman who had lost a child
was talking to a robot
in the shape of a baby seal.
It seemed to be looking in her eyes.
It seemed to be following the conversation.
It comforted her.
And many people found this amazing.
But that woman was trying to make sense of her life
with a machine that had no experience
of the arc of a human life.
That robot put on a great show.
And we're vulnerable.
People experience pretend empathy
as though it were the real thing.
So during that moment
when that woman
was experiencing that pretend empathy,
I was thinking, "That robot can't empathize.
It doesn't face death.
It doesn't know life."
And as that woman took comfort
in her robot companion,
I didn't find it amazing;
I found it one of the most wrenching, complicated moments
in my 15 years of work.
But when I stepped back,
I felt myself
at the cold, hard center
of a perfect storm.
We expect more from technology
and less from each other.
And I ask myself,
"Why have things come to this?"
And I believe it's because
technology appeals to us most
where we are most vulnerable.
And we are vulnerable.
We're lonely,
but we're afraid of intimacy.
And so from social networks to sociable robots,
we're designing technologies
that will give us the illusion of companionship
without the demands of friendship.
We turn to technology to help us feel connected
in ways we can comfortably control.
But we're not so comfortable.
We are not so much in control.
These days, those phones in our pockets
are changing our minds and hearts
because they offer us
three gratifying fantasies.
One, that we can put our attention
wherever we want it to be;
two, that we will always be heard;
and three, that we will never have to be alone.
And that third idea,
that we will never have to be alone,
is central to changing our psyches.
Because the moment that people are alone,
even for a few seconds,
they become anxious, they panic, they fidget,
they reach for a device.
Just think of people at a checkout line
or at a red light.
Being alone feels like a problem that needs to be solved.
And so people try to solve it by connecting.
But here, connection
is more like a symptom than a cure.
It expresses, but it doesn't solve,
an underlying problem.
But more than a symptom,
constant connection is changing
the way people think of themselves.
It's shaping a new way of being.
The best way to describe it is,
I share therefore I am.
We use technology to define ourselves
by sharing our thoughts and feelings
even as we're having them.
So before it was:
I have a feeling,
I want to make a call.
Now it's: I want to have a feeling,
I need to send a text.
The problem with this new regime
of "I share therefore I am"
is that, if we don't have connection,
we don't feel like ourselves.
We almost don't feel ourselves.
So what do we do? We connect more and more.
But in the process,
we set ourselves up to be isolated.
How do you get from connection to isolation?
You end up isolated
if you don't cultivate the capacity for solitude,
the ability to be separate,
to gather yourself.
Solitude is where you find yourself
so that you can reach out to other people
and form real attachments.
When we don't have the capacity for solitude,
we turn to other people in order to feel less anxious
or in order to feel alive.
When this happens,
we're not able to appreciate who they are.
It's as though we're using them
as spare parts
to support our fragile sense of self.
We slip into thinking that always being connected
is going to make us feel less alone.
But we're at risk,
because actually it's the opposite that's true.
If we're not able to be alone,
we're going to be more lonely.
And if we don't teach our children to be alone,
they're only going to know
how to be lonely.
When I spoke at TED in 1996,
reporting on my studies
of the early virtual communities,
I said, "Those who make the most
of their lives on the screen
come to it in a spirit of self-reflection."
And that's what I'm calling for here, now:
reflection and, more than that, a conversation
about where our current use of technology
may be taking us,
what it might be costing us.
We're smitten with technology.
And we're afraid, like young lovers,
that too much talking might spoil the romance.
But it's time to talk.
We grew up with digital technology
and so we see it as all grown up.
But it's not, it's early days.
There's plenty of time
for us to reconsider how we use it,
how we build it.
I'm not suggesting
that we turn away from our devices,
just that we develop a more self-aware relationship
with them, with each other
and with ourselves.
I see some first steps.
Start thinking of solitude
as a good thing.
Make room for it.
Find ways to demonstrate this
as a value to your children.
Create sacred spaces at home --
the kitchen, the dining room --
and reclaim them for conversation.
Do the same thing at work.
At work, we're so busy communicating
that we often don't have time to think,
we don't have time to talk,
about the things that really matter.
Change that.
Most important, we all really need to listen to each other,
including to the boring bits.
Because it's when we stumble
or hesitate or lose our words
that we reveal ourselves to each other.
Technology is making a bid
to redefine human connection --
how we care for each other,
how we care for ourselves --
but it's also giving us the opportunity
to affirm our values
and our direction.
I'm optimistic.
We have everything we need to start.
We have each other.
And we have the greatest chance of success
if we recognize our vulnerability.
That we listen
when technology says
it will take something complicated
and promises something simpler.
So in my work,
I hear that life is hard,
relationships are filled with risk.
And then there's technology --
simpler, hopeful,
optimistic, ever-young.
It's like calling in the cavalry.
An ad campaign promises
that online and with avatars,
you can "Finally, love your friends
love your body, love your life,
online and with avatars."
We're drawn to virtual romance,
to computer games that seem like worlds,
to the idea that robots, robots,
will someday be our true companions.
We spend an evening on the social network
instead of going to the pub with friends.
But our fantasies of substitution
have cost us.
Now we all need to focus
on the many, many ways
technology can lead us back
to our real lives, our own bodies,
our own communities,
our own politics,
our own planet.
They need us.
Let's talk about
how we can use digital technology,
the technology of our dreams,
to make this life
the life we can love.
Thank you.


"【TED】雪莉·透克(Sherry Turkle) :有連綫,卻孤單? (Connected, but alone? | Sherry Turkle)"

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