Friendship Through the Phone

In Sherry Turkle’s Reclaiming Conversation, she dedicates a chapter to the decline of intimate friendships in today’s society. As I read this chapter, there is nothing more depressing than hearing the stories of young people’s experiences with friendships in a digital age. She speaks about Trevor, who describes a college graduation party as “People barely spoke. They ordered drinks and food. Sat with their date. Looked at their phones. They didn’t even try” (p. 138). And he is only one of many examples she uses to point out the lack of social connection. It makes me wonder if my experiences were an anomaly, the exception, because I never felt this way when spending time with groups of friends. Sure, some people would text or take pictures more than others, but I think we all genuinely valued time with each other. Maybe this stems from growing up in a small, private, Christian school system? In high school, the teachers actually collected our phones in a bucket at the beginning of every class. So perhaps we became accustomed to going without technology during the day, which influenced our ability to socially interact after hours? In any case, the more I read this book, the luckier I feel about my consistent, face-to-face connections growing up in school.

Later in the chapter, Turkle introduces the concept of FOMO- Fear of Missing Out (p. 145). Through Kati’s story, it sounds to me like younger generations have a prevailing case of “grass is always greener” syndrome. They are constantly searching for what other people have, waiting for the bigger, better thing. With that mindset, you will never truly be satisfied. I believe that in order to be happy, you have to appreciate what you do have and let go of what you don’t have. In my opinion, this concept intertwines through all the issues that technology addiction brings to the table. When social media is instant, ever-present, and flashy, you’re deceived into thinking that other people’s happiness somehow downplays your own.

 

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