Tackling Turkle

Sherry Turkle, world renowned doctor and sociologist, came to play everyone’s mother for an hour. Turkle did raise some important questions about serious social development; however, she has some serious flaws in her argument, which just felt outdated. With a society tuned into our devices we are taking great strides in the medical field, in business and in communications. Turkle suggests that technology is causing the nuclear family to go atomic. If the family seems to have fractured because of technology, then the family was broken way before that. Our devices are just another form of entertainment but I’m sure sociologists, if they even existed earlier than this century, would say the same about books, newspapers, magazines, non-secular music, radio, movies, television, and the list goes on. But it’s the job of the previous generation to stagnate at some point and the latter generation to carry on and keep innovating.
As technology advances so do we as a society. In the medical field we are making amazing devices and medicines that are revolutionizing health care. Many ideas stemmed from the smartphone and virtual reality. A patient, paralyzed from the waist down, was strapped into an exoskeleton and put into a virtual reality headset where it was projected that he was walking. Over seventy percent of patients were able to move their legs again, slightly, after several sessions. But virtual reality is just another escape from being social, right? When good ‘ol Sherry Turkle was asked what her response was to the internet’s role in helping my generation be the most understanding and accepting to the LGBTQ community, she side stepped the question. Her response went something to effect of, and I paraphrase: “Yeah that’s great and all, technology isn’t all bad, but you’re all apathetic little psychopaths.” Turkle still believes we are apathetic, and more attached to our devices then real people. Turkle cites a study about caregiver’s interaction with children and babies in her book Family by stating, “Raedsky did a study of fifty-five adults who were watching over children as they ate meals together in fast food restaurants. The results: Across the board, the adults paid more attention to their phones than to the children” (108). There are several problems with this study, being that the study took place in a fast food restaurant where, as the name implies, you east fast so quality time, by design, doesn’t happen there. Plus they’re being watched while they eat. That makes most people uncomfortable. And unless Raedsky was sitting across the street in a bush wearing a full safari outfit, looking through some comically-oversized binoculars, then the people knew they were being watched. Turkle cites flawed arguments. In another segment, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turkle taps into a 13 year old by stating, “During meals, Alli eats silently, watching television, while her parents retreat to their phones. Alli misses her parents. When she needs advice, when she has questions about boy trouble, school trouble, friend trouble, she goes to her anonymous Instagram account, on which she has over two thousand followers” (112). Sometimes I wish I was a sociologist, so I could just push half-baked, sensationalist garbage to people for money. Any rational person can read those sentences and realize it’s not the phones. Alli’s parents suck. If she can’t communicate with her parents and needs to go online just for some company and advice then her parents aren’t doing their jobs as parents. Turkle even wrote that she and her daughter were able to bond and dialogue while watching television. But the fact of the matter is that many families seem to be experiencing communications problems and the truth is that the issues lie in the parents and their ability to parent. Technology is a scapegoat as is common in today’s society where everyone looks for a patsy instead of taking personal responsibility. Simply put, parents are responsible for ignoring their children, not the technology. It’s just a tool, use it wisely.


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