The Jordans use an iPad to talk to their daughter, Kelly, who's at school in Chicago.For Valentine’s Day, maybe you’ll post a photo of your loved one on Facebook, tweet out a love poem or text-message your secret crush. But as we make those virtual connections, are we missing something?

Weekend Edition Sunday is exploring a few of the places in our lives where technology can actually drive us apart and make real intimacy tough: in our romantic relationships, with our kids, even in the workplace.

So how did we get here? Sherry Turkle has thought a lot about this. She’s a professor of the social studies of science and technology at MIT. On the one hand, she says, barriers broken online can help people connect with others more deeply. But in hundreds of interviews about communications, the phrase Turkle hears the most is: “I’d rather text than talk.”

“We’re also moving into a world where we’re truncating our communications, making them briefer and briefer, where sometimes we’re willing to sacrifice conversation for mere connection,” she tells Rachel Martin, host of Weekend Edition.

There are benefits to backing off from confrontation, Turkle acknowledges. Some couples use email to fight, giving themselves time to cool down.

“On the other hand, there’s something very useful about learning how to be in a conversation where you have strong feelings and to experience someone else’s anger and your own,” she says, “and to control your feelings but to experience the humanity.”

Technology, Turkle says, can be a way of making relationships “less messy.” For example, when a teenager tries to get out of dinner with his grandparents, sending a text is less involved than calling.

“In other words, that sense that someone is waiting for him, that there’s expectations, that there’s human desire and expectation here,” she says. “And that’s what we’re getting out of. We just type, ‘I’m not coming.’ Send.”

Turkle is not arguing that we wistfully look back on the Internet-free days of the past.

“I’m arguing that if you want to put intimate conversation in your life, you need to leave a little space for it,” she says.

“We all get to keep our phones and love our phones, but now that we’re into a more mature use of the technology, we also need to be able to say, ‘For this conversation, we need to talk.’ ”

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
 

Comments are closed.

News

Screengrab from video by Peek Vision, produced in collaboration with Sony Mobile.
May 28, 2015 | NPR · In a new study, an easy-to-use app did just as good a job as the fancy machines in an eye doctor’s office. That’s a boon for people in low-income countries — and really for anyone with vision issues.
 

Courtesy of Gabriel Garcia Roman
May 28, 2015 | NPR · Inspired by Mexican religious art, photographer Gabriel Garcia Roman portrays queer people of color as saints and warriors.
 

Express/Getty Images
May 28, 2015 | NPR · For author Anthony Horowitz, the book is a return to the “true” James Bond. This means an unpublished scene from Ian Fleming himself — and a long-delayed reunion with a franchise favorite.
 

Arts & Life

HBO
May 28, 2015 | NPR · The British-born Nigerian actor talks about playing an American veteran in Nightingale, the reasons he stays in character for weeks at a time and his aversion to playing “the black best friend.”
 

Courtesy of Gabriel Garcia Roman
May 28, 2015 | NPR · Inspired by Mexican religious art, photographer Gabriel Garcia Roman portrays queer people of color as saints and warriors.
 

Express/Getty Images
May 28, 2015 | NPR · For author Anthony Horowitz, the book is a return to the “true” James Bond. This means an unpublished scene from Ian Fleming himself — and a long-delayed reunion with a franchise favorite.
 

Music

Getty Images
May 28, 2015 | NPR · Mapfumo’s powerful political messages led the superstar to seek asylum in the U.S. Critic Banning Eyre has written a new biography of the singer and bandleader.
 

Courtesy of the artists
May 28, 2015 | NPR · From a jazz-infused Spanish fandango to Afghan hip-hop and hot swing from London (by way of the Lower East Side), this month’s roundup is full of surprising juxtapositions.
 

Courtesy of the artist
May 28, 2015 | WXPN · Hear LaFarge mix old-time jazz, blues, ragtime and string-band music from the past century.
 

Get the KRCC iPhone App

The Writer's Almanac

Radiolab