Stop reading this review and go find someone to talk to instead.
Title: Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age
Author: Sherry Turkle
Renowned media scholar Sherry Turkle investigates how a flight from conversation undermines our relationships, creativity, and productivity —and why reclaiming face-to-face conversation can help us regain lost ground.
Based on five years of research and interviews in homes, schools, and the workplace, Turkle argues that we have come to a better understanding of where our technology can and cannot take us and that the time is right to reclaim conversation. The most human—and humanizing—thing that we do.
The virtues of person-to-person conversation are timeless, and our most basic technology, talk, responds to our modern challenges. We have everything we need to start, we have each other. (From Amazon)
What I Liked:
I talked so much about this book. All the time. To everyone.
“Yes I’d like a burger, some fries, a pop, and have you ever read Reclaiming Conversation? No? You should.”
Turkle clearly illustrates the power technology has over us, and the especially firm grip it has on today’s youth. Her incorporation of Thoreau’s chairs was a brilliant way to conceptualize the differing ways in which we use our devices.
I loved that she wrote about how we are simultaneously more connected than ever and yet so lacking in meaningful connections.
Reading this book actually helped prompt a great personal discovery. When I get stressed or upset, often I go on my phone. I shut down the part of my brain that is freaking out, and look at Facebook or Pinterest or Instagram for that little shot of dopamine to make me feel better. But that doesn’t really make me feel better. Not in the long run.
Turkle explains how shutting down these emotions and not allowing ourselves to feel big feelings can be detrimental to both our health and our relationships.
My epiphany came on the way back from a day trip to Calgary for my birthday. I was cranky in the car on the way back and didn’t really know why. I picked up my phone to look at something but thought, “No. I need to feel these feelings!”
I sat quietly for a while and then turned to my husband and said, “Oh my gosh! These are the reasons why I’m upset!” (Thankfully nothing to do with him, the champ.) If I hadn’t addressed those emotions in a timely fashion, I know from experience they would have resurfaced later in a much less rational manner. My poor husband. Thankfully this book is just wonderful.
What I Didn’t Like:
I feel as though the book should have been titled “1001 Ways Technology is Destroying Conversation” rather than “Reclaiming Conversation,” since there was virtually no discussion on how to save ourselves.
Occasionally there would be a solution thrown in, but there couldn’t have been more than a handful in the entire book.
While the case studies and interviews were fascinating, I felt that this book turned into more of a field journal than anything else.
It seemed to lose steam near the end. I would actually suggest reading the first 70% of the book and skimming the remainder. The first part is truly fantastic.
Another of my favourite quotes from the book:
“When friends are together, they fall into inattention and feel comfortable retreating into their own worlds. Apart, they are alert for emergencies. It is striking that this often reflects how they describe the behavior of their parents: When their children are not at home, they become hovering “helicopters”; when their children are in plain sight, parents give themselves permission to turn to their phones. This is our paradox. When we are apart: hyper vigilance. When we are together: inattention.”
Turn off whatever you’re using to read this and go call your Mom, you slouch.
(You can’t tell I said that in a friendly tone because it’s only text! See how great conversation is? Nuance.)