While Twenge makes convincing points about the deleterious impact of digital communication on intimacy, she overlooks the natural tendency and deep emotional attachment that people have towards digital communication, which aligns with the findings of Sherry Turkle in her article Alone Together.
In her article, Turkle explains how the rise of digital communication has changed the dynamics of human interaction. As part of her argument, Turkle interviews Julia, who is a sixteen-year-old girl, about how she feels and interacts with digital communication. When Julia pulls up her phone, in which she mistakenly calls her friend, Turkle analyzed that, “Julia thinks about strong feelings, her thoughts go both to her phone and her friends. She mixes together ‘pulling up’ a friend’s name on her phone and ‘pulling out’ her phone, but she does not really correct herself so much as imply that the phone is her friend and that friends take on identities through her phone” (Turkle 804). Turkle referring to Julia’s friends taking on “identities through her phone” demonstrates how Julia’s sense of true intimacy human and relationships are ultimately established and maintained through technology. It is Julia’s deep emotional attachment to technology has led her to preserve her friendship through text messages rather than directly interacting with her friends. In addition to Julia, Turkle also discusses with Maury, who feels like he “has” to text while driving regardless of the dangers he put himself in. Maury wistfully tells Turkle that, “I interrupt a call even if the new call say’s ‘unknown’ as an identifier… I need to know who wanted to connect… I have to keep the sound on when I drive. When a text comes in. I have to look. No matter what” (Turkle 801).
People believe that they have an obligation to always be available online and expect that others do so as well. Turkle implies that people always need to be connected to someone in order to quell a sense of loneliness. Turkle portrays how digital communication hinders socialization and communication because people would rather be tethered to technology in order to connect to people more easily and quickly. Thus, intimacy becomes nonexistent for those tethered to technology. Furthermore, Turkle asks a group of teenagers of when they expect to be interrupted. One responds by saying, “‘I am waiting to be interrupted right now.’” For him, what I would term “interruptions” is the beginning of a connection” (Turkle 801). People are constant waiting to be interrupted, in which people perceive interruptions the same as connections.