Alone Together by Sherry Turkle Research Paper

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¶ … Alone together by Sherry Turkle

For most of the people in the modern world, digital technologies are close to their hearts. Even if we forget to puck in our wallets while going out of the house, one does rarely forget to take the cell phone along. The personal computers and the laptops are now at the center of most of our social, economic and professional interactions and communications. The digital devices has tended to exert more and more influence on individuals with the easy access to the internet as they make our lives easier and take up responsibilities for more and more daily tasks (Lehrer).

For example, birthday wishes are now easily and mostly sent on Facebook while we shop for our daily groceries. This intermingling of technology and gadgets and the internet has also diminished the border between the tasks that people seek to establish through the use of technology in the private lives and those in the public. People do not think twice to settle an argument or create an argument with someone important on the other side of the phone while they are travelling in a public transport with scores of people around them. In another time and age, people would not have wanted other unknown people to hear private conversations. But technology has somewhat changed the behavior of people. The nature of the relationships is changed by technology even while technology helps people to keep in touch with each other at any time and at any place.

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The book Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, published in 2011 by Sherry Turkle looks into the way technology has influenced the lives of people and how it has changed the way people interact each other without technology in between and how relationships between people are influenced.

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In the book Turkle says that the while people continue to demand more and more services form the technology and the technological gadgets and are expecting technology to develop themselves every now and then to ease up their lives. On the other hand she claims that this tendency of people demanding more and expecting more from technology, the relationships suffer. The people are in turn demanding less and less from the friends, family, and coworkers (Turkle, n.d.).

In a similar book based on technology and the internet the author had been optimistic about the opportunity that technology was providing as well as the internet. She claimed in that book the internet and advancement in technology would open up new boundaries for people and explore the identity of an individual which would also challenge the traditional notions (Lehrer).

However the author changed her tone completely while talking about technological devices and the internet in Alone Together. While in the earlier book on the same topic, the author saw immense opportunity for the internet and technology driven devices, she represented a completely absolutely opposing picture of the same technology, coupled with the internet in her other book.

Turkle claims that while technology should have brought people closer and enhanced the relationships between persons even while it mad life easier and providing an opportunity to communicate with each other much more easily, the advancement in technology has in fact reduced the communication between individuals. People now see each other in a relation as being the person on the other side of the computer or mobile screen.

This change in opinion of the author about the subject of technology happened through a fifteen year period during which she claims to have interviewed hundreds of people. The interviews were related to the use of technology and the way technology affected the life of the people and their relationships with each other. Turkle used an ethnographic approach to collect information and data on the topic and interviewed and observed the relations among individuals amidst the increasing use of technology in everyday life. This formed the basis of the book Alone Together.

It can be said that the work of interviews and observations conducted by the author over the period of fifteen years was in fact as good as a broader reaching research (Lehrer). The time period of the research and the number of interviews taken and her own experience as a user to technology were sufficient to come to a conclusion that could be applied for most people using similar technology and their effect on relationships.

The focus of the research conducted by the author for the book Alone Together were children and young adults who were in the age group of 5 to 20 years (Dembski). The author interviewed and observed such people who were considered to be digital natives. The only drawback for the research technique was that the interview subjects were fewer in number than such a lengthy research usually entails. The reason for the limitation, according to the author, was that the author had to select such people who could afford the digital technology devices and hence the number was limited (Turkle, n.d.).

The book is separated into two parts-"The Robotic Moment" and "Networked.."

The first part of the book deals with the relationships of humans with the robots that were sociable (Biegen,). Such robots were given to digital natives and they were taught how to take care of the robots. Such robots needed to be taken care of because being sociable the robots demanded care. This training began with toys like Furbies and Tamagotchis. In the story, the digital natives handled the Tamagotchis which began to noisily demand to be fed and loved as soon as they were turned on. The robots also had small digital egg like toys that emitted a beep sound that told the owner of the toy to take care of the toy otherwise it would die of neglect (Turkle, n.d.).

These robots projected emotions such as happiness and sadness which the children found appealing and thus they were attached to the robots and found a companion in the robotic toys. In the first part talking further Turkle argues that the sociable robots began to enter the lives of the people around them in more profound ways after the burst of popularity of the robotic toys. The robots soon began to take the place of humans. For example, a robot in the shape of a baby seal named Paro, was created to provide therapeutic functions and was included in a nursing home. The nursing home bought a number of these robots at a price of $6,000 per robot. The creators of the baby seal robots made claims that the robots had positive psychological effects on the patients that they administered therapeutic functions in the nursing home (Turkle, n.d.). To cite an example, Turkle plays out an interview of an elderly woman who suffered from depression due to the frequent quarrels with her son. Her son used to travel form the west coast to visit her in Boston. The author writes that during the interview the elderly woman constantly ran her hands over the soft smooth skin of the baby seal robot seated on her lap while she narrated her story weeping (Biegen,). The old lady seemed to get comfort and peace from keeping the robot on her lap in the same way she would have felt happiness holding her son. In this way the author establishes a close and intimate relation between the robot seal and the elderly woman. They seemed to have a mental connect with each other even though one of them was a robot. This act of the elderly lady also seemed to have lessened her sadness (Turkle, n.d.).

From such similar such interviews and examples, the author claims in the book that he humans began to find replacement of human relations with relating to robots. The sociable robots demanded love and care and the lonely humans gave them care and love. In this process they got attached to the robots. While the robots demanded more and more love and care, the humans started demanding less and less care, love and attachment from other humans as they had found the same in the robots. For example, the author argues that the elderly woman talked to the robot baby sea in a way she would have talked to her son. The author depicted such examples to draw parallels between the robots and the technology-based devices that are used in our everyday lives. Like the robots who ease the life of the humans, the digital devices too tend to make the life of people in the real world easier. Thus through this part of the book, the author tries to create a warning that digital technology would drive people deeper into dependency on the digital devices and reduce dependency and demands from humans this results in depreciating relationships among humans (Garcia).

"Networked," the second section of the book describes the effect of being glued to the internet all the time and being glued to digital technology even in the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Alone Together by Sherry Turkle" Research Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Alone Together by Sherry Turkle.  (2015, May 7).  Retrieved July 31, 2021, from

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"Alone Together by Sherry Turkle."  7 May 2015.  Web.  31 July 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Alone Together by Sherry Turkle."  May 7, 2015.  Accessed July 31, 2021.