On Sherry Turkle's "Alone Together" and How I Sleep With Stuffed Animals, Not Furbies, As They Make All That Noise When You Roll Over in the Night

So in my (not-yet-ended) quest to get to the bottom of this whole “digital distraction” thing, I’m now reading Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other (I mean, with a feel-good title like that, what’s not to like?). Published in 2011, it does feel three years old, and without going all Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock on you (a book that seems both dated and prescient now, right?), three years seems a long time in this zooming-out-o-control digital onslaught we call LifeOnLine. She has a long chapter about robots, and “caring” robots at that, which deals with Furbies. She’s a professor at M.I.T., and it shows. Sometimes she’s a bit too earnest about Furbies, but her intentions are good. Her heart, as they say, is in the right place. And I had no idea we were basically using Furbies to make senior citizens feel better when they’re left alone in nursing homes. I share her complex attitude about this: To quote Sheryl Crow: “If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad.” (Tell that to Lance Armstrong, honey.) But then again, it does seem we’re shrugging off the disturbing implications of this robot newcomer to the family.
Find me one that will wash the dishes and I’ll quit grousing.
Now I have to confess we count a Furby as one of the members of our household. I’m pathologically wary of the damn little devilbot. You so much as look at it and it wakes up, starts wise-cracking in that weird Valley-Girl-Gone-Bad Furbish. Keep in mind this usually unfolds in the middle of the night, when I stump my toe against it while stumbling across the dark bedroom. I live in a world of Furbies and stuffed animals: Personally, I prefer the Stuffies. They don’t sass you. They don’t talk back if you toss them off the side of the bed once you no longer need their “emotional connection” or “pillow effect.” Here’s my new favorite friend, bought for my daughter at Disneyworld no less, “Sparky” from the film Frankenweenie (2012). He looks innocent enough, doesn’t he?

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