The talk I want to highlight here, however, is Sherry Turkle’s on how our technology is shaping us. I have long enjoyed her perspective as a sociologist in books like Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. In the fifteen years since that book appeared, however, she has soured on the consequences of technology. Here are just a few of the quotes from her talk that I wrote down:
- We are letting technology take us places we don’t want to go.
- Devices don’t change just what we do, but who we are.
- There is a new skill of making eye contact while texting.
- We are tempted by machines that offer companionship.
- We expect more from technology and less from each other.
- The illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship.
- I share, therefore I am.
Today I also had what I consider a quintessential TED moment outside of one of the sessions. I was riding bikes with a group of TEDsters through a neighborhood of million-dollar homes singing American Pie with a woman from Cairo who was wearing a hijab. Here is a little backstory. I rented a nice road bike for a few days this week to try and get exercise in the morning. I got dressed in my cycling clothes and took my bike downstairs to ride. Unfortunately, this morning it had a flat tire. I changed the tire, but the CO2 cartridge failed to inflate it. I knew there was a TED group riding on cruiser bikes in a few minutes, so I went there in the hopes of pumping up the tire. By the time I was able to get access to the pump, the group was leaving, so I joined them. The lead bike was pulling a cart with a big speaker on it playing music.
It was not easy averaging 6 miles an hour, but I decided to just have fun and talk with people. I spotted a woman riding in a hijab and struck up a conversation. She lives in Cairo, but had been educated in an American school in Abu Dahbi. We had a short but wonderful conversation about her upbringing and the uprising in Egypt. When the music playing was American Pie, we both sang along--she in her hijab on a cruiser and I with my shoes clipped into a carbon-fiber road bike wearing my God’s Glory cycling shirt. On the back it refers to Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.” Amen.