Put the phone down: Solutions to save conversation
Whenever I am driving I think it’s a good chance to call my friends. But admittedly, I need someone to distract me from being alone in the car. This week, I focused on using that time to be alone. I jammed music, sang at the top of my lungs and let a few tears flow. It felt good. That is what Sherry Turkle wants for each of us. Real moments with ourself, our friends, our family and our environment.
“Even as we treat machines as if they were almost humans, we develop habits that have us treating human beings as almost-machines.” (345) We have developed habits that prevent healthy conversation. We send text messages or emails when a face-to-face conversation would be better. We stare at our phone while in line at the grocery store. We avoid conversations with as many people as possible. Can you count how many conversation you bypass in a day? Do you want to reclaim the conversation? Do you want to rebuild relationships with your family, friends and neighbors?
Turkle outlined solutions that will promote conversations. She suggests not texting during family dinners or at restaurants and not bringing your laptop to your children’s sporting events. We miss out on relationships, because our phones distract us. Turkle said that even the presence of a phone on silent changes the conversations. So the simple solution: put your phone away.
Turkle also suggested other ways to reclaim conversation. One step is to slow down. “We are often too busy communicating to think, create or collaborate.” (319) Don’t allow technology to set your schedule. Allow your time to think thoroughly before making a decision. Technology such as emails and text messages often pressure us to make quicker choices. Turkle suggests to respond, “I’m thinking,” whenever you need more time to make a decision. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have time to respond or reconsider your stance, but you need more time to make a thoughtful outcome.
We all know that multitasking degrades performance. Yet, people do it everyday, all day. It’s not productive. Turkle argues that “unitasking” will increase productivity and creativity.
Other ways to increase conversation:
- Talk to people that have opposing views
- Allow a conversation 7-minutes to mature before ruling it nonessential
- Choose the right communication tool for the situation.
- Talk to old people they are full of life lessons and wisdom
It’s selfish that people believe that replacing other humans with robots is the answer. The belief that there are not enough people to do the job is just not true. The nation’s unemployment rate is 5 percent. It’s even higher in some communities. We need to continue to secure jobs and opportunities for others. Crime will decline when more people are working and moving toward their dreams and goals.
Yet, I’ll admit it: the idea of robot boyfriend is a little tempting. A relationship with a robot means little risk and no problems. (I don’t know a girl that wouldn’t go for that.) I won’t have to worry about the robot hurting my feelings or cheating. “Although always-available robot chatter is a way to never feel alone, we will be alone, engaged in as-if conversations.” (351) Humans need the love and affection of someone who can reciprocate those feelings back. Robots can’t and won’t have that ability.
So while it sounds good, a robot can’t be my boyfriend or even a real friend. We learn from each other from the facial expression, body language and vocal inflection. This is even more important for children.
A technological accessory won't solve any problem. Our problems stem from a lack of communication. We must check our daily routine and notice how can we improve. When can you have some alone time? How can you increase face-to-face conversation with friends and family? Should your meeting at work be device free? Can you take your coworker to lunch and leave the phones at the desk? Communication is essential to the soul. We can fix this problem. Let's do it! Put your phone down and go find someone to talk too.