97: Reclaiming Conversation by Sherry Turkle

97: Reclaiming Conversation by Sherry Turkle

Episode found at: https://bookworm.fm/97/

In our digital age, it’s easy to stay connected. Emails, text messages, and social media allow us to share snippets of our lives with others- without really having to look, listen, or reveal ourselves. Today’s author argues that we have lost the art of conversation, and makes the case that now, more than ever, is…

A bunch of random thoughts that I’d love to engage on. I will say I was a bit entertained reading this book thinking that the conversation you guys were going have on this book was going to be the first public live recording with a chat room discussion in the background.

I think I agree with Mike a bit on it not just being phones. Instead, I think screens would be a better description because that encompasses everything including the old days of watching TV while having dinner preventing conversation to the watch that can interrupt conversations. The new screens just make it that much worse. You could also argue the classic newspaper at the breakfast table prevented some of the conversations. In the end it comes down to any distraction external or internal that prevents you from fully engaging in the present moment and the people you’re with. Heck I would get in trouble in college because I would be messing around on my computer when on the phone with my dad. This was often met with “call me back when you’re off the computer.” (He also banned cell phones in his work meetings since so many people were distracted. I think I side more with the books on the teaching of empathy through conversations. You can learn it other places but learning to see how someone reacts is huge when you’re little, just like Louis C.K. mentioned in his comic bit. I also really agreed with the value of having tough conversations as someone who has struggled with many of them over the years and was one of the first people who tried online dating (side note, I have many a cautionary story of hitting it off great over texting but having no chemistry in person). Finally I see the allure of having conversations when you can think since I struggle to keep up in arguments against someone who’s quick on their feet (for example my brother who gets plenty of practice as a lawyer). To be able to analyze what they say and actually come up with what I think before I respond is a nice luxury though I realize what may be lost from the in person and in the moment discussion.

One thought I had when Joe mentioned wanting to look things up in the moment was the idea of a field notes or other paper thing to write down those open questions so the conversation could move on.

Sleep tracking: maybe look into the Whoop band or Oora Ring as ways to track without screens or notifications?

If you’ve seen the movie “Her” it gives a very interesting take on the last chapter of talking to machines…not that we are anywhere near the level of AI that’s in the movie.

Overall I thought the book had an important message but she spent 90% of the time on the why we should have more conversations and I would have liked a little more guidance on the how for those of us who aren’t practiced at it.

One thing I thought was really funny that I forgot to mention before was the lawyer saying his new associates were like pilots with all their screens and big headphones. In reality a pilot has a lot of good conversations because that’s all there is to do at cruise. No phones, no books, and the headset delivers the other pilot’s voice directly into your ears. I get he’s just trying to get an image across but I thought the contrast very entertaining.