Who Am I in The Digital World: Paradox of Digital Communication

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1349 |

Pages: 3|

7 min read

Published: Aug 31, 2023

Words: 1349|Pages: 3|7 min read

Published: Aug 31, 2023

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Fear of Conversation in the Digital World
  3. The Urge for Digital Omnipresence
  4. Conclusion
  5. References


“Connected, but Alone?” is a thought-provoking talk delivered by Sherry Turkle, a distinguished psychologist, during her 2012 TED Talk. After a 16-year interval since her initial TED Talk in 1996, Turkle revisits the subject of technology's impact on contemporary communication patterns. Through her discourse, Turkle delves into the preference for asynchronous digital communication over real-time interaction and explores the phenomenon of substituting genuine dialogue with superficial connections. She emphasizes that brief online exchanges lack the depth and authenticity inherent in face-to-face conversations, leaving individuals with an incomplete understanding of their conversational partners. The significance of Turkle's 'Connected, but Alone?' extends beyond the presentation itself, as it serves as an urgent call to reflect on the question, 'Who am I in this digital world?' This introspective query encapsulates the core themes of the talk: apprehensions surrounding direct interaction, the relentless pursuit of virtual omnipresence, and the profound issue of loneliness exacerbated by technology.

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Fear of Conversation in the Digital World

Though technology has greatly helped in making communication more efficient, numerous people prefer communication through technology for the reason that they fear an actual conversation. There are various reasons for this situation as said by Dr. Victoria LeBlanc, a family therapist and counselor, such as the incapability to put thoughts into words, fear of judgment, and fear of rejection. As Turkle discussed, unlike face-to-face conversation, we get to choose and think of the words that we will utter, and we are given the power to present ourselves the way we want it. Online communication simply gives us dominion and control over the situation with the words we choose. Moreover, gestures and facial expressions play a big part in a conversation since it is considered a non-verbal communication that can completely affect the message you send to the receiver. Face-to-face conversations keep this mind unlike in an online interaction where a raw message is presented, and the interpretation is solely based on the receiver. This is where misunderstanding takes place. In a chat, for example, a message can be mistakenly interpreted by the receiver since there are no gestures and facial expressions to base from. However, in the digital world, we can modify the raw messages we present to the way we want it to be presented. Although some reasons for fearing a conversation are valid, people must wake up and learn how to overcome these fears and turn these into their strengths as a real conversation is still the best way to present ideas and emotions with a clearer understanding from the receiver. Even though digital communication is good, everyone is still called to participate in real conversations for the better.

The Urge for Digital Omnipresence

Additionally, even though people don’t completely close their doors for face-to-face conversations, they won’t get rid of their mobile phones during their meeting. People nowadays aren’t satisfied to be in a single place or event, rather, they want to be connected everywhere, anywhere. This circumstance is what Turkle dubbed as being ‘Alone Together’ where people strangely want to be together, but also elsewhere. People always want to relate to what they are seeing in the digital world and not being able to fulfill the said need leads them to the feeling of missing out. (Abel et al., 2016) In a class reunion, for example, attendees get so much excited in meeting their friends whom they have not seen for a long time, but in the event itself, you will witness people periodically viewing their cellphones for the latest news or even for plain memes. Everyone wants to be everywhere. Being omnipresent is something that mortals would love to do but is unable to. Omnipresence leads a person to be able to connect to everything, which humans want. But since being physically omnipresent is impossible for humans, we do it in the digital world. This matter is evident everywhere, parties or formal meetings, heads are turned down looking at their phones. The idea of being digitally omnipresent can be helpful for our self-esteem at times but in the long run, we will realize that it slowly withdraws us from reality. As Turkle states, “We sacrifice conversation for mere connection.” It is disheartening to think that we care about missing out on social media but unbothered when we miss out on the real world. This issue, if not resolved, makes us settle on social media connections which can then lead to the bigger issue, loneliness.

In contrast to what other people say that they use social media to escape the reality of being alone, heavy usage of social media and digital devices leads to loneliness. People mistakenly regard being alone with loneliness. However, the Collins English Dictionary defines loneliness as the state of being unhappy because of not having anyone to talk to. Meaning, simply being alone doesn’t equate to loneliness. As Turkle voiced out, it seems like ‘being alone feels like a problem to be solved’, well, in reality, being alone is a part of life. “The many hours that young adults now spend in front of screens replace time spent in face-to-face interactions.” (Yavich, et al., 2019). People are so afraid to be alone that they always turn to their social media devices to fill their state of being alone. We always try to run from the reality that there are times that we will be alone and try to solve it by immersing ourselves in the virtual world. Sadly, a study by the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania suggests that teens who use social media heavily are 3 times more prone to feeling isolated socially. Though social media can help us ease our loneliness for a while, in the long run, it just worsens it unnoticeably. I can personally attest to this as I have been a victim of it. I have tried soaking myself in social media, trying to get the validation of others for me to feel welcomed. It was helpful at first, but I soon realized that it wasn’t doing me any good and just led me to deeper loneliness. Online connections cannot be a complete substitute for a true companion. A Facebook reaction will never be better than a deep talk with a genuine hug.

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Sherry Turkle’s “Connected, but Alone?” is a wake-up reminder for everyone that the state of communication in our time is not getting any better. Communication with the use of technology has greatly helped us in many ways, but the way we use it now has been negatively affecting us. People fear a face-to-face conversation for various reasons and disregard the good it brings. Well, in fact, the subject of our fear should be the consequences we might face if we continuously substitute real conversation with a digital one. Also, we are called to eliminate, or at least lessen, the desire for omnipresence. Living in the moment, enjoying the event, and interacting with people personally will always be better than being connected to everything that would not make that big of a sense in our lives. Lastly, we are to keep in mind that heavy use of social media will never be an escape from loneliness but rather a pit to a worse problem. Being alone isn’t that bad since it is a part of every man’s life. How we cope with the feeling of isolation is what matters. Altogether, the speech calls us to wake up and start balancing the use of face-to-face interaction and online conversation which would then lead us to the betterment of the state of our communication.


  1. Abel, J. P., Buff, C. L., & Burr, S. A. (2016). Social Media and the Fear of Missing Out: Scale Development and Assessment. Journal of Business & Economics Research (JBER), 14(1), 33-44. doi:
  2. Leblanc, V. (2018). Why Anxiety Causes a Fear of Talking. Retrieved from
  3. Yavich, R., Davidovitch, N., & Frenkel, Z. (2019). Social Media and Loneliness - Forever connected?. Higher Education Studies, 9(2), 10. doi:
  4. Primack, B. A., Shensa, A., Sidani, J. E., & Whaite, E. O. (2017, March 06). Social Media Use and Perceived Social Isolation Among Young Adults in the U.S. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 53(1), 1-8. doi:  
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Who Am I in the Digital World: Paradox of Digital Communication. (2023, August 31). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from
“Who Am I in the Digital World: Paradox of Digital Communication.” GradesFixer, 31 Aug. 2023,
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