“I Share, Therefore I Am”

This post is a continuation of our series based on a TED talk delivered MIT professor Dr. Sherry Turkle that was posted on Scott Elliot’s blog, Resurrected Living. For the full video, go here.

Remember dial-up internet connections? You know, those days when you’d sit in front of your computer, check the phone cord’s connection to your tower, and then suffer the 40 seconds or so it would take to connect to the “world wide web”?

Remember the wonderfully scratchy “eeeeeeaaaaaaahhhh” sound as you logged on?

Remember? Well, those days are gone. We’ve moved even beyond microwave-level wait times to being instantly and constantly connected to everything and everyone. What once took at least a moderate level of time commitment can now be done from anywhere and everywhere. Most of us can check email, text, surf the internet, post a picture on Facebook or share our latest thought on Twitter all while waiting in line at the grocery store.

This constant connection is incredibly useful, but is also affecting us in other deep ways:

Apparently being this connected can be too much of a good thing. In developing a greater sense of “us”, we may be harming our sense of self.

Dr. Turkle’s “I Share, Therefore I AM” concept brings about a million questions to mind, but let me focus on 3 areas that speak to our deep personal needs:

1. Validation – We all have a deep need for our thoughts and needs to be validated. All I have to do is scan through my Facebook timeline to be reminded of that fact. It’s a special feeling to see when someone “likes” our post or retweets our thoughts. It means that we are not alone. It means that what we contribute matters.

If what Dr. Turkle is saying is correct, technology is changing our need for validation. Instead of sharing our thoughts and feelings knowing that they are already valid, we share our feelings hoping that others will validate them.

Psychologists would call that being enmeshed – being overly connected so that it inhibits individual growth. Our individual, personal identities matter and contribute to a better whole, which is a healthy…

2. Community – If you’ve read this blog for long, you know how highly we value community. We are built for it. We long for it. Community is the place where we find true love, respect and acceptance. But an enmeshed community, where we are overly dependent on someone else’s opinion of us, is not true community. Compare this to Paul’s description of community in Romans:

“Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.” – Romans 12:4-8 (NLT)

Although we belong to one another, our validation is as individuals gifted by God to bless one another. Which leads us to…

3. Solitude/Identity – Trevor covered the need to just BE wonderfully the other day, so I will not repeat his thoughts much here. But if we lose the ability to be alone – the ability to be silent and connected to God – then we are at risk of losing the unique and wonderful identity he has given each of us. Solitude is important to our identity.

There is so much more to explore and I have many more questions than answers. I hope you continue to explore them with us.

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