Analysis of The Digital Life Archive and Its Effect On Society

The concept of having a portable, mechanized life archive has intrigued us since the end of World War Two(1).  It has appealed to us because in the pre-digital archive world, having an archive of your life was through physical mediums such as papers, pictures and records, objects that took up space.  The thought of having access to these objects in a digital sense would allow portability to the user and the ability to access these life archives from anywhere.  The concept of having a digital life archive as Turkle suggests allows us convenience and portability, but has led to a dependence on technology in society that has changed the way humans interact and communicate.

To help us with our quest to archive our life through digital technology, the cell phone has been the largest innovation and the closest to the MIT cyborg experiment(2).  The idea of the cyborg was someone who was connected to the internet at all time and could look up stuff at the click of a button.  In exchange for the convenience of having access to technology such as cell phones and computers we have given up our freedom to live life in the moment and are bound to these devices to keep creating our digital archive of life.  I see it as we don’t experience life for ourselves anymore, we experience life for others by capturing our life and posting it to social media sites.  In chapter 13, Turkle says, “Tech is bad because people aren’t strong enough for its pull”(3).  Just these two technologies have had a profound impact on society, for example in college lecture halls what used to be the students paying attention to the lecture has become a majority of students having their laptops open to news and social media sites or texting on their cell phones.

Computers, cell phones and other like technologies were developed with the thought of speeding up tasks and help us to be able to do work more efficiently to free up to so we may enjoy life more.  However, it has turned into technology possessing a pull and addiction that we as humans feed right into.  When you’re standing in a line waiting what is your first reaction? To pull out your phone and perform a search or go to your social media sites to see what other people are up to.  This is why I think the title of this book, Alone Together, is so fitting because we isolate ourselves from human interaction, as the example above suggests, but are together through online forms of social interaction(4).  These unintended consequences are shaping our society and can even tie into the eharmony and online dating readings we discussed Friday.  Because we are increasingly shifting from the landscape of direct human communication to technological mediums such as texting, and facetime more and more social norms will be taking place through technology as has transformed dating into an online entity.  As to be seen if this is ultimately good or bad, technological dependence by humans is happening and transforming the world we live in.

(1) Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together. pg. 299

(2)Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together. pg. 299

(3)Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together. pg. 242

(4)Tardanico, Susan, Is Social Media Sabotaging Real Communication?.


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