Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, by Sherry Turkle, is one of the most important books for right now in both interpersonal relationships and public discourse. The main thesis: Digital technologies have consumed the time and spaces for conversations in our lives, and we are raising generations of young adults and children who don’t know how to have conversations. I found this book recommended in several places, and I am so glad I picked it up. (Actually, I listened to it read by Kirsten Potter — who was great!) I usually only recommend books on this blog that I think a wide range of people should read, and this is one of them. Why? Because the problems with our use of technology that Turkle addresses are problems that touch the daily interactions of 99% of the people I know, including myself! I wasn’t really surprised by anything in the book, but I was extremely surprised by how little I had previously considered the full impact of our devices on our relationships and our culture.
Though I don’t think people would describe me as someone who is “on her phone all the time,” I realized that I had allowed my phone (and the pull of everything on it) to be all too “present” to me at all times. I wasn’t too many pages in before I made some immediate changes to my iPhone notification settings and started to conceptualize an intentional use of digital devices in my life and the rhythms of our family. The book contained so many important critiques of technology, questions regarding normative uses of it, and sobering realities of its impact on us. Here are a few such points that grabbed my attention: Continue reading