Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other

Are We Cyborgs?

  • Early studies of body-worn computers at MIT in 1996 showed experimenters felt like new selves as they became the device. With smart phones, we are all essentially cyborgs. Always on, we tend the Net, and the Net teachers us to need it. Since you are tethered, you bring your home with you, which means you don’t experience an undiluted version of places you visit. You can always be elsewhere. The Net started as a place to share information and soon became a place to gossip, flirt, and game as you develop an online identity. Networking makes it easier to play with your identity, but harder to leave it behind as the Internet is forever.
  • The technology also knows no respect for traditional lines in the sand in terms of interruptions. Multitasking is not a choice for students who know nothing else. Studies show multitaskers don’t perform as well, but there is a certain multitasking high. Students with laptops open in class do not do as well as others. Adults who are always on feel more stressed as they are always behind on responding to email, text, and voice messages. They can never leave the office, and there are no real weekends. A vacation usually means working from somewhere picturesque. You can vacate a place, but not your responsibilities. Emails bounce back and forth resulting in more misunderstandings and hurt feelings.
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