Preserving Human Connection in a Digital World

Technology has not only changed what we do; it has changed who we are, with dramatic impacts on how we work, learn, and think about the world. In particular, the technologies of constant connection have encouraged a “flight from conversation” in every domain. We text, not talk, in our relationships with children, spouses and partners, and business colleagues. And political discourse has suffered in the extreme. Sherry Turkle’s Reclaiming Conversation™ framework aims to preserve our human connection in this digital world.

Sherry puts a critical lens on curricula and distance learning, addresses integrity in the news, and explores the question of “what is truth in the digital world?” as she examines how technology shapes modern relationships. After her most recent investigations of how conversation works in private, professional, and public life, Sherry argues that there is time and necessity to reclaim conversation as well as constructive solitude. As we do this, we will teach students to relearn the discipline of focusing on one thing at a time. And managers will have a new forward-thinking task: to help workers learn the capacity for collaborative conversation and productive solitude. Right now we undermine solitude as we undermine conversation.

Without conversation, we shortchange ourselves. Our relationships with ourselves and others suffer. Sherry believes now is the time to design for our vulnerability to an always-on, digitally driven connection. We have an opportunity to design technology and social environments for a better fit with our most reflective, creative, best selves.