In the spring of 1977, when Sherry Turk was a young professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Steve Jobs came to visit. When he visited the complex and met with his colleagues, Turkle was cleaning his apartment and worrying about the menu for the dinner that he had agreed to host.
It has been almost 50 years since she was writing her memoir, “The Empathy Diaries”, to realize how angry that incident had made her. She was at the beginning of her career looking at how technology affects our lives, yet she was not asked to join her co-workers as she spent the day with the co-founder of Apple.
“why not me?” She said in a video interview last month. It has taken him decades to come to that question, and it reflects his desire to turn the ethnographer’s gaze inward, to examine himself in such a way that he has studied his subjects for a long time. It is central to his new book, he said: “The practical application here is that it means talking to oneself.”
The 72-year-old Turks are big on conversation. In her 2015 book, “Retrieve conversation, “She argues that talking to each other, exchanging voice with old-fashioned voice, is a powerful antidote to life on screen. A licensed clinical psychologist from Harvard who combined psychology and sociology Gets a doctorate degree, he explores what our relationships with technology reveal about us, what we feel is missing from our lives, that we can imagine.
[ Read Dwight Garner’s review of “The Empathy Diaries.” ]
His daughter, Rebecca Sherman, said that she and her friends sometimes become the subject of examining their mother’s livelihood. For example, when looking at your phone, when is it considered acceptable while eating? It was Sherman, 29, and his friends explained to Turk the “rule of three”: it was okay to (temporarily) disappear into a screen as long as at least three other people were engaged in conversation.
“The Empathy Diaries”, which Penguin Press is publishing on March 2, tells of the progression from a working-class Brooklyn boy to a tenure professor at MIT, that in the first years of his life, he Lived in a one-bedroom apartment with her mother. Aunt and grandparents. She slept on a cot in the middle of her grandparents’ bed. Her father was almost completely absent.
[ “The Empathy Diaries” is one of our most anticipated titles of March. See the full list. ]
Her family could not afford a ticket for the High Holy Days at the local synagogue, so they prepared their neighbors on the steps of the temple and greeted them, noting that they would attend services elsewhere. But he recognized Turk’s intelligence and did not ask him to help with the housework. Years later, when she graduated from Radcliffe on scholarship, her grandfather was in attendance.
Turk has also written about the relationships that shaped her. One of them was with his stepfather, Milton Turkle, whose arrival disrupted Turkley’s early living arrangements and the name of which his mother instructed him to take as his own – and never to his classmates or his own. Did not reveal to younger siblings that she was someone’s daughter. other. Her own father was rarely talked about, her name being a taboo.
“I had turned into an outsider who could see that things weren’t always what they felt, because I wasn’t always what I felt,” Turkle said.
When Turks first started publishing and gaining recognition, they were asked personal questions, similar to the questions they asked of their subjects. But she was bled. She was still carrying her mother’s secret, the secret of her real name, years after her mother’s death. So when he was in the public eye, she insisted that the personal is out of bounds, that she would only comment on her work, despite the fact that the logic and thought of her work is inseparable, the work. And the person behind the work entwined. She remembers that moment well: shutting down when she was asked who she really was.
“That really started my journey and the arc of my beginning interacted with myself,” she said.
But Turk had long been interested in memoirs, and he teaches a class on the subject at MIT. He was struck that scientists, engineers, and designers often presented their work in purely intellectual terms, when, in conversation, “they are soulless.” Impressed by his life, influenced by his childhood, he was struck by a stone found on the beach which made him think. “When I started interviewing scientists everything about my research revealed that their life’s work has brought them to work, people, relationships.”
Part of her motivation for teaching the course was to inspire her students to see their work and lives. And she especially set out to unite the two strands when she sat down to write her memoir.
In his book, Turk describes his denial of tenure at MIT, a decision he fought and successfully reversed. She can laugh about it now (“What would a good woman have to do to work here?”), But she marked it with experience.
His co-worker of nearly 50 years, Kenneth Manning, remembers the episode well. Turk was “brilliant and creative”, she said, but he was bringing a new approach to looking at computer culture, and she was coming from a psychoanalytic background. People did not understand that “when he gave him a party to complete his term, some allies did not participate.”
Turkey now serves as an “in-house reviewer”, as he imagines his coworkers might see him, writing about technology and its discontent within an institution where technology is part of the name . “As his work has become more important to digital, there are many elements at MIT that are unsatisfying, certainly,” said David Thorburn, a literature professor at MIT
The title of his new book reflects one of Turk’s presuppositions. As we disappear into our lives onscreen, spending less time in contemplative solitude, and less time in real-life interactions with others, empathy, as Turkey sees it, is one of the casualties. The term, which he defines as “the ability not to put himself in someone else’s place, but to put himself in someone else’s” Problem, “Is not only a concern for Turks, it is a feature of sorts: He has also been called by a school as an all-female empathy squad, where teachers saw that with the proliferation of screens, His students seemed short. Able to put himself on another point.
One of the Turks’ hopes for this special moment is that the epidemic has given us a chance to see each other’s problems and weaknesses in a way that might have never happened before. In the first months of the lockdown, Turk shifted his MIT classes to Zoom. “You can see where everyone lives,” he said. He said, “There were talks about inequalities in our situations. Something that hides the ‘college experience’. “
In many ways, Turk believes that the pandemic, led by author and anthropologist Victor Turner, is a “limited” time, a time in which we give the opportunity to reinvest “with betrayal and in-between,” an inherent catastrophe . “There are possibilities of change in these marginal periods,” he said. “I think we live both in our social lives, through a time, but also in how we treat our technology, where we are ready to think about very different ways of behaving . “
Turk is not opposed to technology. She “proudly” watches a lot of TV and loves writing on her extra-small MacBooks, the way they don’t make them anymore. But he covets the internet-enabled rabbit hole. “I’m aware of how I’m being manipulated from the screen, and I’m so desperate to talk to Alexa and Siri,” she said.
He has spent the majority of the last year at his home in Provincetown, Mass., And so it is inevitable that Henry David Thoreau comes to the fore. Naturalists and philosophers once walked 25 miles of the famous coastline connecting Provinetstown to the tip of the Cape Code.
“You know, Thoreau, his big thing was not about being alone,” Turkey said. “His big thing was: I want to live intentionally. I think we have the opportunity to live consciously with technology. “