Not too much, not too little, just enough.

The social networking platform Facebook demonstrates Sherry Turkle’s notion of the ‘Goldilocks effect’.

As we become more technologically advanced, our social skills seem to decrease and our expectations of technology skyrocket. We expect more from Technology and less from each other. [1]Sherry Turkle studies how our online personas are redefining human relationships and communication.

[2]Facebook, with more than one billion active users is one of the most popular social networking platforms available. Users create a profile page complete with profile picture and are able to share “posts” with “friends”; those selected to share content with. All content is displayed via a “news feed”, a communal page showcasing friends’ posts. Said friends are then able to connect with each other, either publically through visible posts where others may read and contribute, or privately through private chartrooms only visible to those exclusively invited.

[3]Turkle’s theory of “the Goldilocks effect” is the notion that humans now prefer the controlled, editable, deletable world of texting and Facebook to the real world of actually communicating with others. Conversations can now be perfected, unlike in real time. We are slowly moving away from real time social interacting and straight into social networking interaction. Turkle believes that we do not want people too close or too far from us, and that this has occurred from the recent dependence of social networking such as Facebook. We essentially want to be connected but also alone. Not too little, not too much, just enough.
[4]Through social networking platforms like Facebook, we are able to customize our lives through an online avatar and present a character to others that may or may not be a true representation of ourselves. Not only are we creating unrealistic aliases, but we are yearning for a more advanced version of “Siri”, basically a robot best friend who can listen and talk back to us when we want. That is the definition of automatic listeners, and we are turning to Facebook for this reason. Turkle believes we are ready to eliminate people from our lives.

Technology is changing the way people connect. Conversations are no longer taking place in the real world, instead they are online using mediums such as Facebook, where we can control what we are going to say, unlike the real world. Through Facebook, users have the option to delete, retouch or edit their words in order to portray a character they want to be rather than who they actually are. Conversations can be perfected unlike in real time. [5]Turkle states that human relationships are rich and demanding which creates the feeling that having conversations are difficult because we cannot edit as we talk. Facebook conversations can be a true reflection of our real personality as we are able to hide behind a technological device. Facebook has created a domain for us to feel like we can be ourselves and communicate with others at the same time, something that does not often happen in real time. [6]The expectation for technology continues to rise, but we continue to expect less from each other. We are sacrificing conversation for mere connection, but not too much or too little, just enough.

[7]Automatic listeners come in many shapes and forms, but one very popular form is Apple’s digital assistant ‘Siri’. Turkle believes that we are ready to dispose of people all together as we often fantasize about a more advanced version of Siri, that is, someone who will listen when others won’t. Siri is not a human, and does not have the capabilities to physically listen, however users are feeling like they are heard as they will always receive a response from Siri as that is what “she” is programmed to do, therefore users don’t feel alone; the notion of automatic listeners. Facebook is a prime example of an environment where there are plenty of automatic listeners, as we know our posts are being read even if there is no reply. Feeling like no one is listening in the real world makes us want to spend more time on Facebook in order to feel wanted. Facebook even lets us know when we have been heard, an example of this can be seen through a private message, where it lets the sender know if the receiver has read the message by a small time stamp alongside “read”. [8]We are left believing status updates and online sharing is genuine communication, allowing us to “sacrifice conversation for mere connection”.[9]“I share therefore I am”. Facebook demonstrates an illusion of friendship without the demands of companionship. We are expecting more and more from technology, and less from each other; the Goldilocks effect.

Facebook profiles are filled with many status updates about numerous social events and even recommendations of local companies and or services, not to mention plenty of photos to prove the said attended social events and new trending outfits purchased over the weekend. Users create an online avatar, even though the photos provided are real life images, users are able to pick and choose what is shown. [10]Turkle suggests that online avatars enable us to create who we want to be, not who we are. We are able to portray a heightened self image through editing, deleting or re-touching images displayed on Facebook, which may create a more attractive character. We are now customizing our lives. We are now able to love ourselves, and are much more interested in our virtual persona as it provides a heightened representation of our true selves. Due to this new improved persona, Facebook is much more inviting as it enables the user to be someone they want to be, which eventually eliminates real time contact as Facebook can provide an enhanced environment, so we become more dependent on technology and expect less from each other, creating Turkle’s theory of the Goldilocks effect, which is demonstrated in this example as we are now in full control of what is displayed to portray our character and can control it, not too much, not too little, just enough.

[11]Preferred online conversations, perfected avatars, automatic listeners and the disposal of people all together are just a few of the ideas Turkle presents to demonstrate the “Goldilocks effect”. Facebook validates these theories and brings to our attention that we are expecting more and more from technology and less from each other. Not too little, not too much, just enough.

 

 

 


[1] Technology: Connected, but alone? – Sherry Turkle TED video | Guyanese Online. 2014. Technology: Available at: http://guyaneseonline.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/technology-connected-but-alone-sherry-turkle-ted-video/. Accessed 21 January 2014.

[2]  “Facebook Tops Billion-User Mark”. The Wall Street Journal (New York). October 4, 2012. Retrieved October 4, 2012. Accessed 21 January 2014.

[3] The Goldilocks Effect. 2014. Available at: http://larryborsato.com/blog/2012/04/the-goldilocks-effect/. [Accessed 21 January 2014].

[4] Sherry Turkle, 2012. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. First Trade Paper Edition. Basic Books.

[5] Places we don’t want to go: Sherry Turkle at TED2012 | TED Blog. Available at: http://blog.ted.com/2012/03/01/places-we-dont-want-to-go-sherry-turkle-at-ted2012. [Accessed 21 January 2014].

[6] Sherry Turkle, 2012. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. First Trade Paper Edition. Basic Books.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Annotated transcript of Sherry Turkle: Connected, but alone? English | Dotsub. 2014.  Available at: http://dotsub.com/view/89286f53-0e0d-4207-8265-2bf50247ee7f/viewTranscript/eng. [Accessed 21 January 2014].

[10] Sherry Turkle, 2012. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. First Trade Paper Edition. Basic Books.

[11] Ibid.

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