What is Sherry Turkle’s “Goldilocks Effect?”

In her new book, “Alone Together, Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other,” cultural analyst and psychologistSherry Turkle describes the Goldilocks Effect like this: “Not too close. Not too far. Just right.”It’s also known as the Goldilocks Principle.

(Last year, when I was in the throes of my eating disorder I was driving myself and everyone around me to distraction by wanting to be “just right.” But it was an ephemeral obsession because “just right” for me was always five pounds less. Impossible, of course.)

This is the new normal of our digital age of texting and emailing and posting and online connecting in all its many forms and endless platforms. It’s a factor in digital intimacy,but I’m not going into the Robotics side of this story here. Too much for me to handle right now.

Less is more for me…

You know, I have lost count of my Facebook “Friends.” At this very moment, as I am in Blogging overdrive so I don’t care about the numbers of Twitter or Linked In or Pinterest connections I have. I hate numbers anyway.

“Less is more,” for me. But then, I’m not normal in any way, new or otherwise. We know that, don’t we?

What of real intimacy? Real conversations? In real time?

People can’t get enough of each other, but only at a distance, Turkles stresses.

Not too close. Not too far. Just right.

It’s the ability or need or compulsion tocontrolwhere we want to put our attention, and “customize” our lives and our relationships. Except relationships can get pretty messy at times. That’s life. Real life.

Not Second Life

It’s our need to customize and control who we are, who we see and “talk to” (read “text to”) and how we present ourselves to others. More perilously, how we present ourselves to ourselves. How we see ourselves. Our inner history, our insights, our conscious kaleidoscopic lives. Turkle is flashing a warning sign. We’re perilously in danger of losing ourselves to our seductive technology.

Knowing ourselves in real time, dynamically, face to face without our little screens is the only real way of knowing who we are as human beings.

Controlling involves screening contacts. “We get to edit. We get to delete. We get to retouch,” Turkle says. “The face, the voice, the body. ‘Not too much. Not too little. Just right.” Yes, I meant to repeat her phrase. Doesn’t this scare you?

No wonder people prefer scheduling “conversations” on Skype. Making Skype-dates

That’s about as close to “real time,” as some of them will chance on.

In her latest passionateTED.com Talk, Turklepresents her point of view with compelling clarity. She has a 20-year-old daughter and was a champion of technology in her earlier books, but not any more.(Watch it. It’s a riveting 19:43 minutes. Worth your time and concentration.

We sacrifice conversation for mere connection. We need real face-to-face interactions…

“We learn how to have conversations with others to learn how to have conversations with ourselves,” Turkle says, citing cases and showing pictures of people texting in board meetings, at dinner parties, at funerals, at home with each other side by side. Even she admits to sleeping with her cellphone.

“We remove ourselves to go into our phones,” she said, flashing onto the screen a frightening quote from an 18-year-old boy who had been texting all his life.

“Someday, someday, but certainly not now, I would like to learn how to have a conversation.”

Turkle has asked younger people what’s wrong with having a conversation?

They say, “It takes place in real time.” And “you can’t control what you’re going to say.”

Not too much. Not too little. Just right.

There’s much more to this, but right now I want to have a chat with my husband. I want to feel heard. I want to listen to him. I want to engage. He’s right here.

And later we’re meeting my sister and her partner for a frozen yoghurt and a chat. I need some real time, face-to-face interaction. I crave spontaneity. Surprise. A few laughs.

Until tomorrow. I’ll continue this soon. There’s more I want to explore, but right now I’m beat. My eyes are stinging. I’m going to knit and get back to myself.

I love knitting alone.


And, guess what I just noticed in a new post by Dr. John M. Grohol, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Psych Central titledTop 10 Hottest Psychology Articles, Jan-Mar. 2102.Six of these 10 articles are about digital connections and communication.

NOTE: This is my 20th post in 18 days. I have another 13 days left in this blogathon. I’m counting the days. I’m beginning to believe that quality is more important that quantity, but I do not want to renege on my promise or disappoint myself by not keeping my commitment.

Today, I apologize for posting late, but real life does create distractions and interruptions, serendipitous ones. I rather like them. They’re exciting. Still, I’ll try to post earlier tomorrow. Be cool. sln