Rabu, 06 Juni 2012

[TED] Sarah Kay: If I Should Have a Daughter...

I'm officially Sarah Kay's fans from now! :'D

The Transcript:

If I should have a daughter, instead of "Mom," she's gonna call me "Point B," because that way she knows that no matter what happens, at least she can always find her way to me. And I'm going to paint solar systems on the backs of her hands so she has to learn the entire universe before she can say, "Oh, I know that like the back of my hand." And she's going to learn that this life will hit you hard in the face, wait for you to get back up just so it can kick you in the stomach. But getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air. There is hurt, here, that cannot be fixed by Band-Aids or poetry. So the first time she realizes that Wonder Woman isn't coming, I'll make sure she knows she doesn't have to wear the cape all by herself because no matter how wide you stretch your fingers, your hands will always be too small to catch all the pain you want to heal. Believe me, I've tried. "And, baby," I'll tell her, don't keep your nose up in the air like that. I know that trick; I've done it a million times. You're just smelling for smoke so you can follow the trail back to a burning house, so you can find the boy who lost everything in the fire to see if you can save him. Or else find the boy who lit the fire in the first place, to see if you can change him." 

But I know she will anyway, so instead I'll always keep an extra supply of chocolate and rain boots nearby, because there is no heartbreak that chocolate can't fix. Okay, there's a few heartbreaks that chocolate can't fix. But that's what the rain boots are for, because rain will wash away everything, if you let it. I want her to look at the world through the underside of a glass-bottom boat, to look through a microscope at the galaxies that exist on the pinpoint of a human mind, because that's the way my mom taught me. That there'll be days like this. ♫ There'll be days like this, my momma said. ♫ When you open your hands to catch and wind up with only blisters and bruises; when you step out of the phone booth and try to fly and the very people you want to save are the ones standing on your cape; when your boots will fill with rain, and you'll be up to your knees in disappointment. And those are the very days you have all the more reason to say thank you. Because there's nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it's sent away. You will put the wind in winsome, lose some. You will put the star in starting over, and over. And no matter how many land mines erupt in a minute, be sure your mind lands on the beauty of this funny place called life. 

And yes, on a scale from one to over-trusting, I am pretty damn naive. But I want her to know that this world is made out of sugar. It can crumble so easily, but don't be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it. "Baby," I'll tell her, "remember, your momma is a worrier, and your poppa is a warrior, and you are the girl with small hands and big eyes who never stops asking for more." Remember that good things come in threes and so do bad things. And always apologize when you've done something wrong, but don't you ever apologize for the way your eyes refuse to stop shining. Your voice is small, but don't ever stop singing. And when they finally hand you heartache, when they slip war and hatred under your door and offer you handouts on street-corners of cynicism and defeat, you tell them that they really ought to meet your mother.

Thank you. Thank you.

All right, so I want you to take a moment, and I want you to think of three things that you know to be true. They can be about whatever you want -- technology, entertainment, design, your family, what you had for breakfast. The only rule is don't think too hard. Okay, ready? Go. Okay.

So here are three things I know to be true. I know that Jean-Luc Godard was right when he said that, "a good story has a beginning, a middle and an end, although not necessarily in that order." I know that I'm incredibly nervous and excited to be up here, which is greatly inhibiting my ability to keep it cool. (Laughter) And I know that I have been waiting all week to tell this joke. (Laughter) Why was the scarecrow invited to TED? Because he was out standing in his field. (Laughter) I'm sorry. Okay, so these are three things I know to be true. But there are plenty of things I have trouble understanding. So I write poems to figure things out. Sometimes the only way I know how to work through something is by writing a poem. And sometimes I get to the end of the poem and look back and go, "Oh, that's what this is all about," and sometimes I get to the end of the poem and haven't solved anything, but at least I have a new poem out of it.

Spoken word poetry is the art of performance poetry. I tell people it involves creating poetry that doesn't just want to sit on paper, that something about it demands it be heard out loud or witnessed in person. When I was a freshman in high school, I was a live wire of nervous hormones. And I was underdeveloped and over-excitable. And despite my fear of ever being looked at for too long, I was fascinated by the idea of spoken word poetry. I felt that my two secret loves, poetry and theatre, had come together, had a baby, a baby I needed to get to know. So I decided to give it a try. My first spoken word poem, packed with all the wisdom of a 14-year-old, was about the injustice of being seen as unfeminine. The poem was very indignant, and mainly exaggerated, but the only spoken word poetry that I had seen up until that point was mainly indignant, so I thought that that's what was expected of me. The first time that I performed, the audience of teenagers hooted and hollered their sympathy, and when I came off the stage I was shaking. I felt this tap on my shoulder, and I turned around to see this giant girl in a hoodie sweatshirt emerge from the crowd. She was maybe eight feet tall and looked like she could beat me up with one hand, but instead she just nodded at me and said, "Hey, I really felt that. Thanks." And lightning struck. I was hooked.

I discovered this bar on Manhattan's Lower East Side that hosted a weekly poetry open mic, and my bewildered, but supportive, parents took me to soak in every ounce of spoken word that I could. I was the youngest by at least a decade, but somehow the poets at the Bowery Poetry Club didn't seem bothered by the 14-year-old wandering about -- if fact, they welcomed me. And it was here, listening to these poets share their stories, that I learned that spoken word poetry didn't have to be indignant, it could be fun or painful or serious or silly. The Bowery Poetry Club became my classroom and my home, and the poets who performed encouraged me to share my stories as well. Never mind the fact that I was 14 -- they told me, "Write about being 14." So I did and stood amazed every week when these brilliant, grown-up poets laughed with me and groaned their sympathy and clapped and told me, "Hey, I really felt that too."

Now I can divide my spoken word journey into three steps. Step one was the moment I said, "I can. I can do this." And that was thanks to a girl in a hoodie. Step two was the moment I said, "I will. I will continue. I love spoken word. I will keep coming back week after week." And step three began when I realized that I didn't have to write poems that were indignant, if that's not what I was. There were things that were specific to me, and the more that I focused on those things, the weirder my poetry got, but the more that it felt like mine. It's not just the adage "write what you know." It's about gathering up all of the knowledge and experience you've collected up to now to help you dive into the things you don't know. I use poetry to help me work through what I don't understand, but I show up to each new poem with a backpack full of everywhere else that I've been.

When I got to university, I met a fellow poet who shared my belief in the magic of spoken word poetry. And actually, Phil Kaye and I coincidentally also share the same last name. When I was in high school I had created Project V.O.I.C.E. as a way to encourage my friends to do spoken word with me. But Phil and I decided to reinvent Project V.O.I.C.E. -- this time changing the mission to using spoken word poetry as a way to entertain, educate and inspire. We stayed full-time students, but in between we traveled, performing and teaching nine-year-olds to MFA candidates, from California to Indiana to India to a public high school just up the street from campus.

And we saw over and over the way that spoken word poetry cracks open locks. But it turns out sometimes, poetry can be really scary. Turns out sometimes, you have to trick teenagers into writing poetry. So I came up with lists. Everyone can write lists. And the first list that I assign is "10 Things I Know to be True." And here's what happens, and here's what you would discover too if we all started sharing our lists out loud. At a certain point, you would realize that someone has the exact same thing, or one thing very similar, to something on your list. And then someone else has something the complete opposite of yours. Third, someone has something you've never even heard of before. And fourth, someone has something you thought you knew everything about, but they're introducing a new angle of looking at it. And I tell people that this is where great stories start from -- these four intersections of what you're passionate about and what others might be invested in.

And most people respond really well to this exercise. But one of my students, a freshman named Charlotte, was not convinced. Charlotte was very good at writing lists, but she refused to write any poems. "Miss," she'd say, "I'm just not interesting. I don't have anything interesting to say." So I assigned her list after list, and one day I assigned the list "10 Things I Should Have Learned by Now." Number three on Charlotte's list was, "I should have learned not to crush on guys three times my age." I asked her what that meant, and she said, "Miss, it's kind of a long story." And I said, "Charlotte, it sounds pretty interesting to me." And so she wrote her first poem, a love poem unlike any I had ever heard before. And the poem began, "Anderson Cooper is a gorgeous man." (Laughter) "Did you see him on 60 Minutes, racing Michael Phelps in a pool -- nothing but swim trunks on -- diving in the water, determined to beat this swimming champion? After the race, he tossed his wet, cloud-white hair and said, 'You're a god.' No, Anderson, you're the god."

Now I know that the number one rule to being cool is to seem unfazed, to never admit that anything scares you or impresses you or excites you. Somebody once told me it's like walking through life like this. You protect yourself from all the unexpected miseries or hurt that might show up. But I try to walk through life like this. And yes, that means catching all of those miseries and hurt, but it also means that when beautiful, amazing things just fall out of the sky, I'm ready to catch them. I use spoken word to help my students rediscover wonder, to fight their instincts to be cool and unfazed and, instead, actively pursue being engaged with what goes on around them, so that they can reinterpret and create something from it.

It's not that I think that spoken word poetry is the ideal art form. I'm always trying to find the best way to tell each story. I write musicals; I make short films alongside my poems. But I teach spoken word poetry because it's accessible. Not everyone can read music or owns a camera, but everyone can communicate in some way, and everyone has stories that the rest of us can learn from. Plus, spoken word poetry allows for immediate connections. It's not uncommon for people to feel like they're alone or that nobody understands them, but spoken word teaches that if you have the ability to express yourself and the courage to present those stories and opinions, you could be rewarded with a room full of your peers, or your community, who will listen. And maybe even a giant girl in a hoodie will connect with what you've shared. And that is an amazing realization to have, especially when you're 14. Plus, now with YouTube, that connection's not even limited to the room we're in. I'm so lucky that there's this archive of performances that I can share with my students. It allows for even more opportunities for them to find a poet or a poem that they connect to.

It is tempting -- once you've figured this out -- it is tempting to keep writing the same poem, or keep telling the same story, over and over, once you've figured out that it will gain you applause. It's not enough to just teach that you can express yourself. You have to grow and explore and take risks and challenge yourself. And that is step three: infusing the work you're doing with the specific things that make you you, even while those things are always changing. Because step three never ends. But you don't get to start on step three, until you take step one first: I can.

I travel a lot while I'm teaching, and I don't always get to watch all of my students reach their step three, but I was very lucky with Charlotte, that I got to watch her journey unfold the way it did. I watched her realize that, by putting the things that she knows to be true into the work she's doing, she can create poems that only Charlotte can write -- about eyeballs and elevators and Dora the Explorer. And I'm trying to tell stories only I can tell -- like this story. I spent a lot of time thinking about the best way to tell this story, and I wondered if the best way was going to be a PowerPoint or a short film -- and where exactly was the beginning or the middle or the end? And I wondered whether I'd get to the end of this talk and finally have figured it all out, or not.

And I always thought that my beginning was at the Bowery Poetry Club, but it's possible that it was much earlier. In preparing for TED, I discovered this diary page in an old journal. I think December 54th was probably supposed to be 24th. It's clear that when I was a child, I definitely walked through life like this. I think that we all did. I would like to help others rediscover that wonder -- to want to engage with it, to want to learn, to want to share what they've learned, what they've figured out to be true and what they're still figuring out.

So I'd like to close with this poem.

When they bombed Hiroshima, the explosion formed a mini-supernova so every living animal, human or plant that received direct contact with the rays from that sun was instantly turned to ash. And what was left of the city soon followed. The long-lasting damage of nuclear radiation caused an entire city and its population to turn into powder. When I was born, my mom says I looked around the whole hospital room with a stare that said, "This? I've done this before." She says I have old eyes. When my Grandpa Genji died, I was only five years old, but I took my mom by the hand and told her, "Don't worry, he'll come back as a baby." And yet, for someone who's apparently done this already, I still haven't figured anything out yet. My knees still buckle every time I get on a stage. My self-confidence can be measured out in teaspoons mixed into my poetry, and it still always tastes funny in my mouth. 

But in Hiroshima, some people were wiped clean away, leaving only a wristwatch or a diary page. So no matter that I have inhibitions to fill all my pockets, I keep trying, hoping that one day I'll write a poem I can be proud to let sit in a museum exhibit as the only proof I existed. My parents named me Sarah, which is a biblical name. In the original story, God told Sarah she could do something impossible and she laughed, because the first Sarah, she didn't know what to do with impossible. And me? Well, neither do I, but I see the impossible every day. Impossible is trying to connect in this world, trying to hold onto others while things are blowing up around you, knowing that while you're speaking, they aren't just waiting for their turn to talk -- they hear you. They feel exactly what you feel at the same time that you feel it. It's what I strive for every time I open my mouth -- that impossible connection. There's this piece of wall in Hiroshima that was completely burnt black by the radiation. But on the front step, a person who was sitting there blocked the rays from hitting the stone. The only thing left now is a permanent shadow of positive light. 
After the A-bomb, specialists said it would take 75 years for the radiation-damaged soil of Hiroshima City to ever grow anything again. But that spring, there were new buds popping up from the earth. When I meet you, in that moment, I'm no longer a part of your future. I start quickly becoming part of your past. But in that instant, I get to share your present. And you, you get to share mine. And that is the greatest present of all. So if you tell me I can do the impossible, I'll probably laugh at you. I don't know if I can change the world yet, because I don't know that much about it -- and I don't know that much about reincarnation either, but if you make me laugh hard enough, sometimes I forget what century I'm in. This isn't my first time here. This isn't my last time here. These aren't the last words I'll share. But just in case, I'm trying my hardest to get it right this time around.

Thank you.

Source: http://dotsub.com/view/e8f7d701-e410-464d-9051-eeae8a1ddd44/viewTranscript/eng                                     

Selasa, 05 Juni 2012

Persyaratan Donor Darah

Kemarin tanggal 4 Juni 2012, ada donor darah di kantor saya. Kebetulan saya memang sudah niat mau ikutan, cuma karena minggu kemarin saya sempat sakit, saya jadi ragu. Ragunya karena saya masih mengonsumsi obat, ya cuma obat maag sih. Akhirnya saya beranikan saya turun ke bawah, menuju tempat donor darah. Banyak pertanyaan dalam benak saya, apakah saya bisa lulus persyaratan donor darah? Karena tekanan darah saya juga tidak pernah normal, selalu jauh di bawah (90/70). Daripada penasaran, mendingan saya langsung tanyakan ke dokter yang berjaga di donor darah.

Inilah percakapan saya bersama bu dokter: (S = saya, B = Bu Dokter)

S: Bu, saya mau donor darah, tapi saya habis makan obat pagi tadi.
B: Obat apa?
S: Obat maag sih.
B: Oh, gapapa, yang penting kamu gak berasa mual, muntah, pusing kan?
S: (ngangguk)
B: (sambil melihat badan saya yang mungil) berat badan kamu berapa?
S: 45 kg.
B: Hmm..kurang tuh, mesti minimal 50kg. Gemukin lagi ya, soalnya kita ngambilnya 300cc.
S: Ooh gitu Bu, kok saya kaya hewan kurban sih mesti digemukin?
B: Atau kamu mau maksain, ntar pusing lho...

Gak lama ada orang PMI lainnya yang dateng dan laporan kalau di ruangan sebelah ada yang pusing. Percakapan kami pun berhenti sampai di situ. Saya naik ke lantai atas, tempat saya bekerja, sambil berpikir ternyata ada hubungannya ya berat badan minimal sama jumlah cc darah yang akan diambil? Soalnya setau saya 45kg harusnya sudah cukup. Tapi walaupun berat badan misalnya gak masalah, saya juga pasti terhambat untuk donor darah karena tekanan darah saya yang rendah. Hmm...masih banyak PR saya sebelum bisa donor darah. 

O, iya buat yang penasaran apa saja persyaratan donor darah, berikut persyaratan donor darah yang saya ambil di blog Blood For Life:

Syarat-syarat teknis menjadi donor darah:
  • Umur 17-60 tahun( usia 17 tahun diperbolehkan menjadi donor bila mendapat izin tertulis dari orang tua)
  • Berat badan minimal 45 kg
  • Temperatur tubuh: 36,6 – 37,5 derajat Celcius
  • Tekanan darah baik yaitu sistole = 110 – 160 mmHg, diastole = 70 – 100 mmHg
  • Denyut nadi teratur yaitu sekitar 50 – 100 kali/ menit
  • Hemoglobin baik pria maupun perempuan minimal 12,5 gram
  • Jumlah penyumbangan per tahun paling banyak lima kali dengan jarak penyumbangan sekurang-kurangnya tiga bulan. Keadaan ini harus sesuai dengan keadaan umum donor.
Seseorang tidak boleh menjadi donor darah pada keadaan:
  • Pernah menderita hepatitis B
  • Dalam jangka waktu enam bulan sesudah kontak erat dengan penderita hepatitis
  • Dalam jangka waktu enam bulan sesudah transfusi
  • Dalam jangka waktu enam bulan sesudah tato/tindik telinga
  • Dalam jangka waktu 72 jam sesudah operasi gigi
  • Dalam jangka waktu enam bulan sesudah operasi kecil
  • Dalam jangka waktu 12 bulan sesudah operasi besar
  • Dalam jangka waktu 24 jam sesudah vaksinasi polio, influenza, kolera, tetanus dipteria, atau profilaksis
  • Dalam jangka waktu dua minggu sesudah vaksinasi virus hidup parotitis epidemica, measles, dan tetanus toxin
  • Dalam jangka waktu satu tahun sesudah injeksi terakhir imunisasi rabies therapeutic
  • Dalam jangka waktu satu minggu sesudah gejala alergi menghilang
  • Dalam jangka waktu satu tahun sesudah transplantasi kulit
  • Sedang hamil dan dalam jangka waktu enam bulan sesudah persalinan
  • Sedang menyusui
  • Ketergantungan obat
  • Alkoholisme akut dan kronis
  • Mengidap Sifilis
  • Menderita tuberkulosis secara klinis
  • Menderita epilepsi dan sering kejang
  • Menderita penyakit kulit pada vena (pembuluh darah balik) yang akan ditusuk
  • Mempunyai kecenderungan perdarahan atau penyakit darah, misalnya kekurangan G6PD, thalasemia, dan polibetemiavera
  • Seseorang yang termasuk kelompok masyarakat yang berisiko tinggi mendapatkan HIV/AIDS (homoseks, morfinis, berganti-ganti pasangan seks, dan pemakai jarum suntik tidak steril)
  • Pengidap HIV/ AIDS menurut hasil pemeriksaan saat donor darah.
* * *

Ayo buat yang memenuhi persyaratan di atas, jangan ragu lagi untuk donor darah. Hilangkan ketakutan pada jarum karena darah kamu akan berarti bagi sesama dan pastinya membuat badanmu tambah sehat :)


Senin, 04 Juni 2012

Untung dan Rugi Punya Badan Kurang Tinggi

Kemarin saya menyempatkan untuk memanjakan diri ke salon. Rambut saya yang kering dan kaku memang memaksa saya untuk rutin merawat rambut. Saya menunggu sekitar 15 menit karena padatnya pengunjung salon, baru ketika itu ada yang menghampiri saya untuk mencuci rambut saya. Sebagai orang yang mempunyai badan yang kurang tinggi (FYI, tinggi saya hanya mencapai 148 cm), saya kesusahan untuk meletakkan kepala saya di tempat mencuci rambut. Saya harus berusaha menaikkan anggota tubuh saya dulu baru deh nyampe, itu pun posisinya sangat tidak nyaman. Sesaat saya berusaha rileks saja dan memejamkan mata, saya malah jadi terbayang hal-hal apa saja yang pernah saya alami karena tinggi badan saya ini dan mungilnya badan saya. Hihi. Otomatis saya pun jadi senyum-senyum sendiri. Ih, untung saja gak ada yang lihat, nanti saya dikira sudah gila lagi.

So, here's what I thought at that time ;)

Enaknya punya badan kurang tinggi dan mungil:
  • Bisa nyelip-nyelip ngambil makanan dan minuman pas kondangan. Tentu saja saya sering banget melakukan hal ini, tapi waktu kecil, kalau sekarang mah malu sendiri.
  • Gak takut kejeduk kalau ada atap yang agak rendah.
  • Jadi awet muda. Iya seringnya dikira masih SMA. Hihi. Padahal umur udah kepala 2.
  • Hemat tempat. Saya bisa nyempil-nyempil di kereta atau angkutan umum lainnya. Bahkan teman-teman saya tidak keberatan memangku saya kalau memang tempatnya gak muat.

Gak enaknya adalah:
  • Kadang2 gak nyampe ke pegangan di kereta atau transjakarta. Kalaupun nyampe harus usaha banget dan pastinya jadi lebih pegel dari orang yang lebih tinggi.
  • Gak diizinin ke konser-konser. Iya, itu sama bokap sih, karena katanya saya kecil takut ntar keinjek-injek.
  • Susah banget milih dress yang jatuhnya pas di badan, bisa-bisa yang harusnya jatuh di pinggul malah di paha -__-"
  • Susah juga milih celana jeans tanpa dipermak dulu. Kebanyakan karena kepanjangan, malah saya pernah ngecilin celana jeans di tukang permak ternyata setelah dicoba masih kepanjangan juga. Hiks. Padahal sudah diukur dulu sebelumnya. Mudah-mudahan tukang permaknya yang salah ya bukan badan saya yang menyusut -.-
  • Kalau berada di kerumunan orang, langsung tenggelam gak kelihatan.
  • Saat nonton di bioskop kalau salah pilih posisi duduk, saya jadi gak bisa melihat subtitle-nya. Terlebih kalau ada orang yang kelewat tinggi duduk persis di depan saya.

Dengan beberapa plus dan minus punya badan kurang tinggi yang terpikirkan saat itu, apakah saya menyesal punya badan kurang tinggi sehingga tidak bisa leluasa duduk dan menikmati pelayanan di salon? Jawabannya tidak. Dari dulu saya gak pernah berupaya minum apapun biar jadi tinggi. Saat SMP memang saya pernah bertanya-tanya gimana caranya supaya bisa lebih tinggi? Tapi paling-paling saya cuma berenang. Gak pernah terobsesi banget lantas jadi pakai obat-obatan. That's a big no-no for me. Saya merasa nyaman dengan tubuh saya sekarang, ya walaupun memang kalau berada di keramaian saya akan merasa tenggelam dengan mudahnya. Tapi itu gak lantas membuat saya kepikiran dan stress. Saya pikir masih ada high heels yang bisa membantu saya. Hehe. Walaupun ya paling naiknya berapa cm :p

Well, dari cerita saya ini saya cuma mau bilang kalau kita sudah bisa menerima tubuh kita dengan baik, maka kita pun akan nyaman dengan diri kita sendiri. Cheers!

Jumat, 01 Juni 2012

[TED] Sherry Turkle: Connected, but alone?

Please watch this video and tell me do you feel the same? or is it just me who agree with Sherry Turkle? ;)

The transcript:

Just a moment ago, my daughter Rebecca texted me for good luck. Her text said, "Mom, you will rock." I love this. Getting that text was like getting a hug. And so there you have it. I embody the central paradox. I'm a woman who loves getting texts who's going to tell you that too many of them can be a problem.

Actually that reminder of my daughter brings me to the beginning of my story. 1996, when I gave my first TEDTalk, Rebecca was five years old and she was sitting right there in the front row. I had just written a book that celebrated our life on the internet and I was about to be on the cover of Wired magazine. In those heady days, we were experimenting with chat rooms and online virtual communities. We were exploring different aspects of ourselves. And then we unplugged. I was excited. And, as a psychologist, what excited me most was the idea that we would use what we learned in the virtual world about ourselves, about our identity, to live better lives in the real world.

Now fast-forward to 2012. I'm back here on the TED stage again. My daughter's 20. She's a college student. She sleeps with her cellphone, so do I. And I've just written a new book, but this time it's not one that will get me on the cover of Wired magazine. So what happened? I'm still excited by technology, but I believe, and I'm here to make the case, that we're letting it take us places that we don't want to go.

Over the past 15 years, I've studied technologies of mobile communication and I've interviewed hundreds and hundreds of people, young and old, about their plugged in lives. And what I've found is that our little devices, those little devices in our pockets, are so psychologically powerful that they don't only change what we do, they change who we are. Some of the things we do now with our devices are things that, only a few years ago, we would have found odd or disturbing, but they've quickly come to seem familiar, just how we do things.

So just to take some quick examples: People text or do email during corporate board meetings. They text and shop and go on Facebook during classes, during presentations, actually during all meetings. People talk to me about the important new skill of making eye contact while you're texting. (Laughter) People explain to me that it's hard, but that it can be done. Parents text and do email at breakfast and at dinner while their children complain about not having their parents' full attention. But then these same children deny each other their full attention. This is a recent shot of my daughter and her friends being together while not being together. And we even text at funerals. I study this. We remove ourselves from our grief or from our revery and we go into our phones.

Why does this matter? It matters to me because I think we're setting ourselves up for trouble -- trouble certainly in how we relate to each other, but also trouble in how we relate to ourselves and our capacity for self-reflection. We're getting used to a new way of being alone together. People want to be with each other, but also elsewhere -- connected to all the different places they want to be. People want to customize their lives. They want to go in and out of all the places they are because the thing that matters most to them is control over where they put their attention. So you want to go to that board meeting, but you only want to pay attention to the bits that interest you. And some people think that's a good thing. But you can end up hiding from each other, even as we're all constantly connected to each other.

A 50-year-old business man lamented to me that he feels he doesn't have colleagues anymore at work. When he goes to work, he doesn't stop by to talk to anybody, he doesn't call. And he says he doesn't want to interrupt his colleagues because, he says, "They're too busy on their email." But then he stops himself and he says, "You know, I'm not telling you the truth. I'm the one who doesn't want to be interrupted. I think I should want to, but actually I'd rather just do things on my Blackberry."

Across the generations, I see that people can't get enough of each other, if and only if they can have each other at a distance, in amounts they can control. I call it the Goldilocks effect: not too close, not too far, just right. But what might feel just right for that middle-aged executive can be a problem for an adolescent who needs to develop face-to-face relationships. An 18-year-old boy who uses texting for almost everything says to me wistfully, "Someday, someday, but certainly not now, I'd like to learn how to have a conversation."

When I ask people "What's wrong with having a conversation?" People say, "I'll tell you what's wrong with having a conversation. It takes place in real time and you can't control what you're going to say." So that's the bottom line. Texting, email, posting, all of these things let us present the self as we want to be. We get to edit, and that means we get to delete, and that means we get to retouch, the face, the voice, the flesh, the body -- not too little, not too much, just right.

Human relationships are rich and they're messy and they're demanding. And we clean them up with technology. And when we do, one of the things that can happen is that we sacrifice conversation for mere connection. We short-change ourselves. And over time, we seem to forget this, or we seem to stop caring.

I was caught off guard when Stephen Colbert asked me a profound question, a profound question. He said, "Don't all those little tweets, don't all those little sips of online communication, add up to one big gulp of real conversation?" My answer was no, they don't add up. Connecting in sips may work for gathering discreet bits of information, they may work for saying, "I'm thinking about you," or even for saying, "I love you," -- I mean, look at how I felt when I got that text from my daughter -- but they don't really work for learning about each other, for really coming to know and understand each other. And we use conversations with each other to learn how to have conversations with ourselves. So a flight from conversation can really matter because it can compromise our capacity for self-reflection. For kids growing up, that skill is the bedrock of development.

Over and over I hear, "I would rather text than talk." And what I'm seeing is that people get so used to being short-changed out of real conversation, so used to getting by with less, that they've become almost willing to dispense with people altogether. So for example, many people share with me this wish, that some day a more advanced version of Siri, the digital assistant on Apple's iPhone, will be more like a best friend, someone who will listen when others won't. I believe this wish reflects a painful truth that I've learned in the past 15 years. That feeling that no one is listening to me is very important in our relationships with technology. That's why it's so appealing to have a Facebook page or a Twitter feed -- so many automatic listeners. And the feeling that no one is listening to me make us want to spend time with machines that seem to care about us.

We're developing robots, they call them sociable robots, that are specifically designed to be companions -- to the elderly, to our children, to us. Have we so lost confidence that we will be there for each other? During my research I worked in nursing homes, and I brought in these sociable robots that were designed to give the elderly the feeling that they were understood. And one day I came in and a woman who had lost a child was talking to a robot in the shape of a baby seal. It seemed to be looking in her eyes. It seemed to be following the conversation. It comforted her. And many people found this amazing.

But that woman was trying to make sense of her life with a machine that had no experience of the arc of a human life. That robot put on a great show. And we're vulnerable. People experience pretend empathy as though it were the real thing. So during that moment when that woman was experiencing that pretend empathy, I was thinking, "That robot can't empathize. It doesn't face death. It doesn't know life."
And as that woman took comfort in her robot companion, I didn't find it amazing; I found it one of the most wrenching, complicated moments in my 15 years of work. But when I stepped back, I felt myself at the cold, hard center of a perfect storm. We expect more from technology and less from each other. And I ask myself, "Why have things come to this?"

And I believe it's because technology appeals to us most where we are most vulnerable. And we are vulnerable. We're lonely, but we're afraid of intimacy. And so from social networks to sociable robots, we're designing technologies that will give us the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship. We turn to technology to help us feel connected in ways we can comfortably control. But we're not so comfortable. We are not so much in control.

These days, those phones in our pockets are changing our minds and hearts because they offer us three gratifying fantasies. One, that we can put our attention wherever we want it to be; two, that we will always be heard; and three, that we will never have to be alone. And that third idea, that we will never have to be alone, is central to changing our psyches. Because the moment that people are alone, even for a few seconds, they become anxious, they panic, they fidget, they reach for a device. Just think of people at a checkout line or at a red light. Being alone feels like a problem that needs to be solved. And so people try to solve it by connecting. But here, connection is more like a symptom than a cure. It expresses, but it doesn't solve, an underlying problem. But more than a symptom, constant connection is changing the way people think of themselves. It's shaping a new way of being.

The best way to describe it is, I share therefore I am. We use technology to define ourselves by sharing our thoughts and feelings even as we're having them. So before it was: I have a feeling, I want to make a call. Now it's: I want to have a feeling, I need to send a text. The problem with this new regime of "I share therefore I am" is that, if we don't have connection, we don't feel like ourselves. We almost don't feel ourselves. So what do we do? We connect more and more. But in the process, we set ourselves up to be isolated.
How do you get from connection to isolation? You end up isolated if you don't cultivate the capacity for solitude, the ability to be separate, to gather yourself. Solitude is where you find yourself so that you can reach out to other people and form real attachments. When we don't have the capacity for solitude, we turn to other people in order to feel less anxious or in order to feel alive. When this happens, we're not able to appreciate who they are. It's as though we're using them as spare parts to support our fragile sense of self. We slip into thinking that always being connected is going to make us fell less alone. But we're at risk, because actually it's the opposite that's true. If we're not able to be alone, we're going to be more lonely. And if we don't teach our children to be alone, they're only going to know how to be lonely.

When I spoke at TED in 1996, reporting on my studies of the early virtual communities, I said, "Those who make the most of their lives on the screen come to it in a spirit of self-reflection." And that's what I'm calling for here, now: reflection and, more than that, a conversation about where our current use of technology may be taking us, what it might be costing us. We're smitten with technology. And we're afraid, like young lovers, that too much talking might spoil the romance. But it's time to talk. We grew up with digital technology and so we see it as all grown up. But it's not, it's early days. There's plenty of time for us to reconsider how we use it, how we build it. I'm not suggesting that we turn away from our devices, just that we develop a more self-aware relationship with them, with each other and with ourselves.

I see some first steps. Start thinking of solitude as a good thing. Make room for it. Find ways to demonstrate this as a value to your children. Create sacred spaces at home -- the kitchen, the dining room -- and reclaim them for conversation. Do the same thing at work. At work, we're so busy communicating that we often don't have time to think, we don't have time to talk, about the things that really matter. Change that. Most important, we all really need to listen to each other, including to the boring bits. Because it's when we stumble or hesitate or lose our words that we reveal ourselves to each other.

Technology is making a bid to redefine human connection -- how we care for each other, how we care for ourselves -- but it's also giving us the opportunity to affirm our values and our direction. I'm optimistic. We have everything we need to start. We have each other. And we have the greatest chance of success if we recognize our vulnerability. That we listen when technology says it will take something complicated and promises something simpler.

So in my work, I hear that life is hard, relationships are filled with risk. And then there's technology -- simpler, hopeful, optimistic, ever-young. It's like calling in the cavalry. An ad campaign promises that online and with avatars, you can "Finally, love your friends love your body, love your life, online and with avatars." We're drawn to virtual romance, to computer games that seem like worlds, to the idea that robots, robots, will someday be our true companions. We spend an evening on the social network instead of going to the pub with friends.

But our fantasies of substitution have cost us. Now we all need to focus on the many, many ways technology can lead us back to our real lives, our own bodies, our own communities, our own politics, our own planet. They need us. Let's talk about how we can use digital technology, the technology of our dreams, to make this life the life we can love.

Thank you.