01st Nov2012

Week 10: Alone-ness and Connection

by jessicavooris

1) I have very mixed feelings about Turkle’s article, perhaps because her argument itself is mixed. While overall I felt that her argument was one of doom and gloom around technologies effects, she also recognizes the benefits.  On one hand I have personally experienced the stress and anxiety that comes from the immediacy of being connected all the time and constantly receiving information.  I find myself compulsively checking email, or feeling as though I should always be getting work done.  (I think this is also the nature of grad student life–without regular hours there is a sense that one could/should always be working.)  I also multi-task, often to the detriment of my concentration.

As Turkle points out we then try to build un-connectedness into our lives.  I relish my 1.5 mile walk to campus for the 25 minute thinking space it gives me.  I can listen to music, but other than that, I am walking and thinking, nothing else.  (of course, regardless of the unconnected benefits, walking is good for my physical health.) So, there are downsides to this ever-connectedness.  However, technology–email, cell phones, computers–have allowed me to stay in touch with relatives and friends who I would not have been able to be in touch with in the same way.  Thus, for me at least, my answers to survey questions as in the Fischer article about being connected with relatives would def. depend on technology to do so, especially as most of my extended family lives in Europe.  I guess I see technology as something that needs to be balanced, but mostly is a benefit/augmentation to relationships and networks that I currently have.

2) One of the themes of these readings was connectedness and the idea of some types of connections and relations being better than others.  Kinship ties are assumed to be tighter than non-kin (Fischer) and surveys ask if people have someone to talk about”important matters” with, as though those relationships would automatically be more fulfilling than casual encounters with people.  In person is supposed to be better than online.  I wonder how we might think about a discussion around the ways in which people connect, the different needs that people have for relationships? Some people find socializing to be draining, others find it to be energizing.  Also, what does it mean that we have the concept that we are less-connected and lonelier, even though the Fischer article shows us that in general people are just as committed to their families, and have just shifted types of activities and have less children?

3) I liked the concepts of “cocooning,” “camping” and “footprinting,” particularly cocooning and the ways in which it can be used to create space within crowded space or protect against harassment.  I wonder about the implications for understanding private/public space.  I also am trying to think through the implications of cocooning as a response to violence and the ways in which this gives individuals power over space and the ability to move through space safely…but also does address the problems that they are avoiding in the first place—like street harassment.  In these public spaces, what about the response from others when someone is dealing with violence? How do we feel responsibility or not for others who are moving through space with us?

Side-Note:  In related technology news: here is an article about children in an ethiopian village learning how to use tablet PCs without any instruction.  I was reminded of it by Cassy’s comment on what “elite” and tech savvy means.



Space: The ways in which people interact and connect is different depending on the space–whether both individuals are physically present, or interacting online.  While spaces are becoming ever more connected through technology, this does not necessarily mean that people feel closer to each other.

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