Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age

Sherry Turkle. Penguin Press, $27.95 (448p) ISBN 978-1-59420-555-2
Digital culture expert and MIT professor Turkle (Alone Together) delivers a sweeping report on the various ways humans have adapted their sense of self and relationships to the digital age. In her opinion, this period has seen a decline in the face-to-face communication needed for self-reflection, empathy, and intimacy. Turkle deftly uses interviews, her expertise in psychoanalysis, and extensive research to examine what is lost and gained as digital communication becomes more pervasive. Additionally, she explores the intersections between emotion and technology, such as apps designed to find romantic partners and algorithms that assess psychological states. She goes on to show that this digital epoch encourages a “friction-free” style of communication, defined by self-editing and the immediate gratification of a Facebook like. She suggests that this approach degrades the quality of performance at work and school, and that democracy is undermined as citizens accept the surveillance provided by social media as a new way of life. Turkle manages nonetheless to summon up a sense of hope, stating, “It is not a moment to reject technology but to find ourselves.” This book makes a winning case for conversation, at the family dinner table or in the office, as the “talking cure” for societal and emotional ills. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/10/2015
Release date: 10/06/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-0-14-752619-9
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-14-310979-2
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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