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The Goldilocks effect: Connected, but alone? [TED Video]

The more connected we become the more likely we are to feel alone. This is what psychologist Sherry Turkle believes is happening to us in our new connected lives. Turkle is a TED fellow who graced the cover of Wired Magazine in 1996 as one of the first authors to take a serious look at how people engage online.

In her latest book, Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other, Turkle argues that the more we expect from technology and devices we use daily — the less we expect from each other. In this TED video she explains how our devices and online personas are redefining human connection and communication — and challenges us to seriously examine the new kinds of connection we want to have.

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Turkle focuses on the all consuming world of social media and sociable robots. She explains that these are technologies that propose themselves “as the architect of our intimacies.”

Our lives have become consumed by the connections inside our technological devices. Most people spend their days sending texts, checking emails, updating Facebook status and tweeting.

According to Turkle, the social media we deal with on a daily basis is only a moment of temptation. Pulling us into the illusion of “companionship without the demands of intimacy”, we are left believing that status updates and online sharing is genuine communication. Allowing us to sacrifice “conversation for mere connection”.

“The feeling that ‘no one is listening to me’ make us want to spend time with machines that seem to care about us,” says Turkle.

Turkle suggests that the fact we grew up with the internet causes us to see it as grown up, which it is not. “Digital technology is still in its infancy and there is ample time for us to reshape how we build it and use it” she says.

Calling our new existences “The Goldilocks” effect, we don’t want too much contact or too little we just want it to be “just right”. We want connections we can control, because online, we can edit and delete.

We are so afraid of being alone, we create so many online feeds for “automatic” listeners. The creation of sociable robots for the elderly to give them the illusion of intimacy is a prescient example of this. She suggests that we are moving into the thought stream of “I share therefore I am”.

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