Writing Out Loud: Always-On/Always-On-You: The Tethered Self

Turkle is concerned with what happens to our senses of self and our relationships when we’re always connected to stimulating communication technologies. After you complete the readings, please respond to the questions below.

Theme: Rise of the Avatar


  1. Turkle says that “our devices have become more closely coupled to our sense of our bodies and increasingly feel like extensions of our minds.” What does Turkle mean? What are the consequences for our sense of self when we’re constantly tethered to our communication devices? What about for our relationships with others?
  2. What do you think? Is Turkle right about the downsides of tethering the self? What are the positives to being tethered to our communication technologies? Do you think the positives outweigh the negatives? Why or why not? Can we harness the positives while minimizing the negatives, and if so, how?
  3. Think back to Goffman’s writing about the performance of self. What happens to the front and back stages when the self is always tethered? What does it mean to manage impressions with inanimate objects that seem to communicate with us? Or consider Mead’s approach to the social construction of the self. What does it mean to become an object to oneself in interaction with an inanimate object that can only imitate communication?
  4. Turkle points toward people who create sacred spaces and times when they disconnect from tethered communication technology. Why do you think that people do that? How could you incorporate untethered time into your schedule and relationships, and how might your life be different?
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