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Shelf Help: 'Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age'

Our phones are hurting our ability to truly know one another and ourselves.
Reclaiming Conversation. (Photo: Penguin Press)

Reclaiming Conversation. (Photo: Penguin Press)

Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age
Sherry Turkle
Penguin Press

Few people are more qualified to say something new on the tired subject of smartphones than Sherry Turkle, a psychologist and sociologist renowned for her work on technology and human behavior. Her latest book blends interviews, anecdotal observation, and academic studies into a persuasive case that our beautifully designed phones—or, really, the culture of hyper-connectedness they represent—are hurting our ability to truly know one another and ourselves. College students’ scores on standard empathy exams are plummeting. Employers are complaining about new hires who can’t handle simple face-to-face interactions. Academics have found that the mere presence of a phone on the table during a conversation can affect its content and emotional depth. Turkle’s interviews suggest that many people—especially young people—know something has gone wrong, and are hungry for solutions. As a start, she suggests phones intentionally designed to be less mesmerizing. Don’t hold your breath.


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