Technology has transformed all aspect of people’s lives, starting at the most basic unit; the family. Currently, family life is based on technology, as parents and children apply to technology in their thought, perceptions, actions and attitude. Technology dictates how, where and why people do things. Because of this, people have become dependent on it. People depend on their computers to provide them with information, provide means of socializing as well as eliminating the time wasting. People are attached to their cell phones, to the point that others think life would be impossible without phones. In this sense, is technology controlling or offering freedom? Afraid of dealing with the real life issues, people turn to technology to give the freedom of living an easy life. Their perception of technology of that it frees them. However, as illustrated by two writers, Sherry Turkle and Arlie Russell, technology controls an individual, making him or her unable to function without it.
Sherry argues that people are turning to have relationships with robots because of their insecurities. We are becoming insecure due to the emotional risks involved in human relationships. To avoid the complexities and demands of human relationships, we turn to computers, phones and technological gadgets to solve these insecurities. Instead of going out to interact with others, people prefer using social sites and the internet to meet “friends”. On the other hand, Arlie Russell argues that people use technology and its products such as coffee making machines, cell phones and other technology related products such as cereals, in an attempt to “save time”. People think that if they are able to “save time” by using the technology, then they would create more time for leisure, which is always not the case. In contrasts, technology ends up bringing the pressure into their lives, as it encourages them to work more and rest less. Therefore, these two articles bring to our attention what effects the technology has on our ways of thinking. They highlight the way technology controls human beings with the illusion of offering freedom.
Families are invaluable aspects of human lives. Everyone has a form of family, whether created or natural, we all have families. Arlie Russell, in her article, the Commercial of intimate life, talks about the conventional and the unconventional wisdom of families. She says that a happy family is currently ending by itself in the modern conventional wisdom. She also talks about the family relationships in regard to the time people attribute to family members. Through an illustration of a cereals advertisement, she exhibits how “busy” she gets and frequently sacrifices the family time for other activities such as schooling, work or malls. However, the perceptions of human relationships and family lives are slowly changing, given the popularity and use of computers. Computer and computer products have transformed the way people view themselves, their relationships and the world they live in. Sherry Turkle in her article Alone together highlights the diminishing aspect of the human relationships, perceptions of families and the effects of computer to the family members, especially children. While Arlie Russell talks about the time people place on family relationship, Sherry Turkle displays the lack of time people express in forming such relationships, and the use of technology to replace the intimate relationships.
Arlie argues that the emotional draw in families usually pushes people far from families; that people prefer spending time in malls or at workplaces in an endeavour to flee the pressures of the family life. To complement this argument, Arlie says that people work more, earn more money and spend it on families as a way of saying “i love you”. This is a superficial kind of relationship that families are adopting, just like Sherry’s view on the superficial relationship people seek with robots. That people are afraid of facing complexities and demands of the real human relationships and instead, seek easier ways out, either through spending money on the loved ones, or in other cases, substituting humans with robots. Robots are less complicated, easy to control and provide the needed company. In the subject of time, Arlie says that because of the workplace, people tend to have been limited to do anything, including household chores. So they look for ways of doing things quickly; they do many things simultaneously, delegate responsibilities and do anything that would save their time. This aspect is also shared by Sherry Turkle, who argues that people are continuously delegating human activities to robots.
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In our simulation culture, authenticity becomes a taboo, a threat and a fascination. People fear what is real and prefer the unreal things. The technology emphasizes this unreal nature of things. It allows people to “create” animals, lives, food and everything else that is possible, with the impression that they are better than the real things. This shapes people negative perception on the need of real things. In the present world, aliveness has lesser intrinsic value and may only be required for the specific values, when needed, unlike in the past when people placed importance on real things. There is a decreasing amount of value that people place in authentic and intimate relationships. In Alone together, Sherry Turkle argues that people are placing more importance on robotic experiences, allowing the technology, especially computers and robots to take over their social life dimension. That people would rather converse with robots, be intimate with them, and share their experiences with robots, than they would with fellow human beings.
Additionally, people are relying on computers for everything and anything that would require a human touch. For example, people are increasing adopting the use of robots to clean their houses, do laundry and form and intimate relationship with. Sherry Turkle views the use of robots to substitute human relationships is unnatural because it denies human with the benefits of solitude. It also deprives people of the benefits of the authentic human relationships and intimacy. So why do more and more people prefer the relationships with computers? Is it because it makes them feel safe, good, better or in control? Virtual space offers relationships the way we want them to be. People can write profiles in Facebook or Twitter in a way that pleases them, edit their messages to reveal what the messages project what they want. Not all relationships with computers are unhealthy. However, it is upon us to reflect on the desirable, possible and ethical aspect of these relationships. Computers have no experiences to share with human beings, as they are just programmed to satisfy the needs of human.
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Technology has introduced the time saving goods and services that we view efficient in today’s life, which fit the social definitions of the good family life. For example, in order to fulfil her duty as a good mother while saving time too, a mother would buy the baked birthday cakes for her children instead of spending time baking them, which is time consuming. This way, the child would view his or her mom as a good mother with a little effort from the mother. However, does the mother consider the amount of bonding she would have made had she baked the cake at home with her family? This seems insignificant in the modern world. The value people place on such experiences is slowly diminishing. Even the children would not have the time to bake with their mothers had she compromised. Every one in the family seems to be busy doing something with technology.
Cell phones, computers and computer products have taken the control over the families. Some commentators blame women employment for the high divorce rates affecting families today. These are the consequences of the technology, how it changes people. Technology offers people substitutes for the face to face connections. Sherry Turkle argues that through Twitter, Facebook, instant messaging, texts and emails, the technology closes the boundaries between the solitude and intimacy. Sherry Turkle also talks about “connectivity and its discontents”. The technological connectivity brings anxiety or panic of disconnections. For example, a person expecting a phone call would feel anxious when not holding the phone. One gets distracted and loses concentration in the immediate happenings of one’s environment. This way, they are unable to form close relationships with those physically present. Some people cannot sleep or eat without their phones.
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The two authors agree that people turn to technology in an attempt to save time when the volume and velocity of their lives overwhelms them, people turn to technology. However, technology denies them their opportunity as it makes them even busier. Technology also reshapes people’s emotional lives landscapes as it controls how their view themselves and others, how they perceive the reality and their actions. This way, technology controls individuals, while deceiving them of freedom. The two writers have highlighted the ways in which technology controls people without their knowledge. Despite these, it should be noted that technology does not always affect people negatively. The negative influences come with the incorrect use of technology and its products. People escape from their responsibilities by using the technology hence allowing it to control their lives. Initially, the new communication strategies such as Skype and emails were created to enhance communication where it was difficult to have a face to face communication. With time, they took over the social lives of people, preventing the intimate communication.