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Make a Resolution to Reflect: Sherry Turkle and the Rise of the Selfie Culture

By December 17, 2013February 23rd, 2016No Comments

It’s the 2013 word of the year. President Obama recently got flak for it. Even the Pope is doing it. The selfie has permeated our culture and is transforming everyday experiences. This “documented life” is our new normal. But are we missing opportunities to really see and appreciate what we spend so much time capturing and sharing?

In her New York Times’ op-ed, MIT Professor Sherry Turkle dissects this conundrum, and traces how our social/emotional connection to our mobile tethers has evolved from not just one of sharing, but also of our fascination with preserving (if not, possessing) “the moment.”

“Technology doesn’t just do things for us. It does things to us,” she asserts, “changing not just what we do but who we are. The selfie makes us accustomed to putting ourselves and those around us ‘on pause’ in order to document our lives. It’s an extension of how we have learned to put our conversations ‘on pause’ when we send or receive a text, an image, an email, a call. When you get accustomed to a life of stops and starts, you get less accustomed to reflecting on where you are and what you are thinking.”

Turkle, author of “Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other,” has studied people and mobile technology for more than 15 years. She reminds us that there is good reason to sit still with our thoughts: “It does honor to what we are thinking about. It does honor to ourselves.”

As we approach the close of another year – traditionally a time of both reflection and resolution – take pause to truly experience the moments that matter rather than interrupting the experience to make the moment matter.