Technology can be turned off. That is a reminder from Sherry Turkle director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self from a USA Today article, “2010: The year technology replaced talking“. According to the article “Americans are connected at unprecedented levels — 93% now use cellphones or wireless devices; one-third of those are “smartphones” that allow users to browse the Web and check e-mail, among other things. The benefits are obvious: checking messages on the road, staying in touch with friends and family, efficiently using time once spent waiting around. The downside: Often, we’re effectively disconnecting from those in the same room.”
Just like any other tool, these technology devices that help us communicate and share information with anyone, anywhere, anytime, are only as effective as the tool user. Sometimes we forget that we are in control. Yes, we can turn off the devices. Yes, we can use them to be more efficient and fun when we want or need them. But, they do not need to degrade the quality of our communication with other humans. Used well, they can increase the quality of our communication with others. It is only when we forget that they can be turned off or ignored that it becomes a problem. And, that is a human problem not a technology problem.