The Pathology of Facebook and Twitter

January 23rd, 2011

Via: Guardian:

The way in which people frantically communicate online via Twitter, Facebook and instant messaging can be seen as a form of modern madness, according to a leading American sociologist.

“A behaviour that has become typical may still express the problems that once caused us to see it as pathological,” MIT professor Sherry Turkle writes in her new book, Alone Together, which is leading an attack on the information age.

Turkle’s book, published in the UK next month, has caused a sensation in America, which is usually more obsessed with the merits of social networking. She appeared last week on Stephen Colbert’s late-night comedy show, The Colbert Report. When Turkle said she had been at funerals where people checked their iPhones, Colbert quipped: “We all say goodbye in our own way.”

Turkle’s thesis is simple: technology is threatening to dominate our lives and make us less human. Under the illusion of allowing us to communicate better, it is actually isolating us from real human interactions in a cyber-reality that is a poor imitation of the real world.

One Response to “The Pathology of Facebook and Twitter”

  1. Eileen Says:

    I’m going to go and look for that Colbert Report episode after I post this, but its really rather pitiful. To quote: He also pointed out that the “real world” that many social media critics hark back to never really existed. Before everyone travelled on the bus or train with their heads buried in an iPad or a smart phone, they usually just travelled in silence. “We did not see people spontaneously talking to strangers. They were just keeping to themselves,” Kist said.

    This to me is so much bullshit. I would argue that the non-verbal world of communicating non-verbally has existed FOR A LONG TIME. The art of reading a human expression, even though a person is “sitting in silence” is an ART, I might add, and has been the subject of many great novels by Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, those who are deaf and dumb, etc. Reading a facial expression to know someone is in pain doesn’t require sending a text message, tweeting or twumbing.
    Especially troubling to me is that all of these 1,000’s of friends had comments to make to each other but who was this woman’s real friend in the dark night of her soul? Who reached out to her?
    While it might be easy to say for me, who will NEVER join Facebook, or Tweet, own a Blackberry or whatever, I worry for my nephews, people I work with, etc., who at times seem consumed by this electronic world. Jokes about electronic dating etc made by others in my work place make me very sad for those who are involved in this “electronic drug.”

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