It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon. My girl and I were making our way to the local beer garden when my phone rang. I took my phone out of my pocket, looked at the screen, and put the phone back in my pocket.
“I really don’t like talking on the phone,” I said.
“Right,” she said in a tone that was part question and part co-sign.
We riffed a bit on why it was just so much easier to text or send an email. We joked our dislike of voicemails and noted how many outgoing messages now said some version of, “For a quick response, please email or text.”
“We don’t need all this interaction for simple questions,” I laughed.
I was reminded of my many “I don’t really like talking on the phone” conversations while watching Sherry Turkle’s Connected TEDTalk:
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 those 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.
She had a point. There was something about the ability to edit and limit interactions. There was some sort of control. You email a question. I have time to formulate an answer. There is no being “put on the spot,” with technology; you respond when you see fit. Further into the talk, Turkle went from discussing how we limit contact to talking about robots that were designed to be companions.
“And I believe it’s because technology appeals to us most where we are most vulnerable,” she said. “And we are vulnerable. We’re lonely, but afraid of intimacy.”
The longer I listened, the more I thought about the ways we use technology to fake intimacy and never be completely vulnerable.
Do you use technology to avoid intimacy and vulnerability? Do you think it’s an issue?