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After the interview was over, he took it out and he had over 100 new messages, most of them texts.He explained that some of these were from a girlfriend “in meltdown,” some of these were from a group of friends with whom he was starting a band.This is not only changing the way we interact online, it’s straining our personal relationships, as well.Turkle’s new book, “Alone Together” (Basic Books, 2011), explores the ways online social networks and texting culture are changing how people relate to society, their parents and friends.These days, however, when this difficult moment comes, each 15-year-old simply retreats onto Facebook.Whether or not they physically leave the birthday party, they have “left.” When teens tell me that they’d rather text than talk, they are expressing another aspect of the new psychological affordances of the new technology — the possibility of our hiding from each other.We Facebook-friend people who do not know their commitment to us and similarly, we are unsure of what commitment we have to them.

The most dramatic change is our ability to be “elsewhere” at any point in time, to sidestep what is difficult, what is hard in a personal interaction and go to another place where it does not have to be dealt with.When people move from, “I have a feeling, I want to make a call” to “I want to have a feeling, I need to send a text,” something unfortunate happens to their relations with others.They start to need other people to feel validated and they cannot approach others as full, individual, differentiated people.We are tempted to give precedence to people we are not with over people we are with.People talk to me about their phones and laptops as the “place for hope” in their lives, the “place where sweetness comes from.” We text during dinner with our families. We text when we are with our children in the playground.

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