I’m only about halfway into Turkel (I haven’t read chapter 12 yet) but I find myself having a hard time reconciling my experience with what she’s saying. For me, this distance is not an issue of accuracy, but of opinion; I can’t agree with the conclusions Turkel is drawing, even if her examples might resonate. A few of her points (especially about multi-tasking, or seeking solace in virtual worlds) are good ones, but then I’m disappointed when she uses these moments of analysis to further her techno-pessimism. I was careful not to write Turkel’s and my differences off as indicative of the generation gap, however I’m starting to think that there is credence to this issue I’m trying to skirt, that maybe Turkel’s reliance on doing things the “old-fashioned” way and the persistence of slight errors of misreading the methods in which people utilize social networks is evidence of irreconcilable interpretive communities. I could play a rapidly dangerous drinking game that revolved around counting the moments in the essay where Turkel reminisces about a technology-free time, juxtaposed against a negative example of people and their machinery “nowadays”. I wonder if a techno-ubi sunt genre of poetry is not too far off, with aging “lords” and “ladies” bemoaning the lost Tumblr-less summers of yesteryear?
Facetiousness aside, I do wonder about how different generations understand technology and its impact on socializing. Unlike Turkel, I would argue that texting and IM-ing are, in-fact, that “old wine in new bottles”, if the old wine stands in for corresponding and keeping in contact and the new bottle is this social networking technology. I might not have the historical perspective Turkel has, but its hard for me to see how advances in computers and computer availability and access are not the latest step in an evolutionary chain that includes the printing press, the development of official mail carrying institutions, telegraphs, etc. Is that crazy, or uninformed? Advances in technology make connectivity faster and more frequent – this seems to me the most basic core of what’s happening here, of what’s always happening.
I preferred the Ito chapter, as Pascoe was able to distance himself from judging and relied on these interviews to extrapolate different modes of interaction possible through Myspace and IM, and what these interactions looked like. These examples also lined up with my experience, but Pascoe’s research was less prone than Turkel’s to misquote or mistake phrases or color observed practices with obvious bias (“The Twitter” comes to mind. My mom says things like that.) People do seem horrified by the idea of a lived experience taking place online, or mystified by the seemingly arbitrary, complex social codes of networking outlets like Facebook, but I’d once again point to past lives lived in correspondence, to the complicated combination of private and public cues and modes that have always ruled courtship and dating.
But I suppose my problem with Turkel’s bias could be applied to me as well. By the time I really began to socialize in a public sphere bigger than my classmates and close family, I had internet and texting access. So, right at the onset of adolescence, I was already plugged into the grid. What’s more, I had a Gameboy Color (the dark purple one) well before I was a teenager, or had even really been outside my home – so I wonder how much of how I navigate and interact with the “real” world is shaped by formative experiences with exploring the “fake” worlds of Pokemon Blue and Legends of Zelda: A Link to the Past. If you look long enough into the Matrix, does the Matrix look back? Can we see outside of our biased perspectives ever, even with acclimation and learning and contact with new ideas?
In her Introduction, Turkel states “If the problem is that too much technology has made us busy and anxious, the solution will be another technology that will organize, amuse, and relax us.” as the confused viewpoint towards robot companions. Fear of a Skynet Planet notwithstanding, I would once again (and for the last time) say that this has always been the role of technology, to mediate and replace. Some of the discomfort with these new “plugged-in” people seems to be the uncanny closeness I discussed earlier in class this week, of a realization that maybe humans are machines too. Not that we have become mechanized or assimilated, but that we always were connected, at a very basic level, to our tools. Inextricably so.