Technology Essay: Are We in a Race Against the Machine

Sherry Turkle, in her essay No Need to Call, presented that technology is consuming our lives because everything we do requires its presence at the expense of personal interaction.

This is the age when you would rather see another person’s message than feel the emotions that come with it. A conversation no longer requires the rise and fall of a voice but a plain text is enough to convey a message. Even the comfort of another’s company is already transformed into words flashed in a screen because a bodily presence is not possible or that it is just inconvenient.

Indeed, almost everyone now use technology in the form of social media, texting and email to send a message be it personal or a business transaction. From the perspective of a working environment, texting and email gave rise to a more efficient and convenient transactions for a speedy completion of a task. It improved workmanship because messages can be conveyed in just a second.

This system ended the waiting for the arrival of a telegram. It also shortened the distance between loved ones and made it possible to reach out even from afar.  The downfall came when people abused it by using it extensively in their personal lives. People became used to having conversations while doing other things at the same time. In the article, a lot of the people who shared their sentiments admitted that they are losing their personal touch when a personal interaction is involved. They already prefer using an email or a text to say what they think. On the bright side, it the use of technology can be used to avoid awkward unwanted conversations. However, the sad reality came when a lot of the people interviewed in the article shared that they felt that pang of guilt when they realized that there were no more emotions involved in conversations with people who matter. Every response came out like an automated machine. What made it worse is that they do not want to mean it that way. They still care and they show that by sending a text or an email but they still have other things to do. Turkle slowly slammed in every reader the reality that electronic presence is still nothing compared to a bodily presence. The sound of a voice is way preferable than a text message. One cannot make a hug electronic and words will not comfort someone if it is in a text message.

Personally, the use of texting and calling would always depend upon the gravity of a situation. A call would mean an emergency and a text would be something I can respond to anytime I want. In terms of conversations that are personal, a call would mean someone on either end of the line is extremely angry, happy or sad and a text would only relay that someone has just been from an emotional turmoil. I would admit that there are times when a conversation is turned down if it involves something personal or emotional because I just do not want to engage in it. Regardless, I always make it sure that personal relationships remain healthy. This means that in any case, time must be allotted for making up for the lost moments.

As observed, our society is slowly leaning towards considering texting and email as a major form of communication. Every one of us is found in the people who shared their story in the article. You can be Tara or Rosie, who preferred a text and an email rather than a phone call to say that someone died. I can be Joyce or Karen who preferred a text message than a phone call to say congratulations. In these situations, the essence of being a human being is lost as manifested in the manner of communicating.

People became preoccupied in work and lost time for personal relations. The latter became a trivial part of life maintained through electronic messaging. But what is really more important in one’s life? If the focus is mostly on our material needs, what are we made of then? Our communication practices are starting to discredit the rationality we claim to have. If this becomes a custom, the future generation will adopt our ways. Time will come when the sound of a voice is unheard of because one can always send a message and there is no need to call.