Cell phones. Most of us have them, and most of us use them pretty heavily; checking social media, texting friends, using the internet, playing games, etc. On the one hand, I think cell phones are pretty incredible because we have contact and knowledge at the touch of a finger in a tiny little device. But we all know those people who seriously can never seem to put it down, and that can lead to less fulfilling human interactions.
In Sherry Turkle’s article, “Stop Googling. Let's talk.” she discusses the effects that using a cell phone in social situations and during alone time has on people. She argues that the use of cell phones while in social situations affects the quality of human conversation. Turkle says that it makes people less open and honest in conversation. She also says it makes people less empathetic. She uses a school of children as an example, stating that the children do not seem to be able to understand each other or show empathy toward each other. Turkle also explains that our constant use of our phones also inhibits our ability to be alone. Instead of being able to just quietly think when we have alone time, we now automatically reach for our phones, ignoring time to actually learn about ourselves.
I found Turkle’s argument about our lack of empathy to be interesting. She states that the way people used to converse created conversations where it was relatively simple to read the other person and understand them. She uses the children at a school as an example of what happens when we grow too used to having phones in conversation. Turkle says, “The old conversation taught empathy. These students seem to understand each other less.” Turkle is making the argument that because we are so focused on our phones, we tend to be less able to read people. I know that for this is sometimes true. I might be having an important text conversation with someone while having a conversation in real life as well. If I’m concentrated on my phone long enough I might completely miss what the person standing in front of me just said or I might not pick up on his/her tone of voice and then be confused about the context of our conversation.
This topic is important because cell phones are now a part of almost everyone’s daily life. Phones help us to keep in touch with the people we cannot be with at the moment but it also lowers the value of our in-person conversations because they are more limited than they used to be. We focus on our phones so much sometimes that not only do we lose valuable conversation with those around us, but also lose our ability to be comfortable and happy by ourselves. Cell phones are a great technology but can also inhibit natural human tendencies when used too often.