The Public Square (but where are all the people?)

In the chapter “The Public Square” there is a quote “You go on a website, you send in your money- that satisfies your requirement for being in the conversation.” This quote I can really relate to, because I have witnessed it happen throughout my life. People feel guilty enough to acknowledge the problem brought up such as when they see commercials for the animal shelters and send in their donations to fill that sad whole in their heart. However, people are never compelled enough to go out of their normal routine to fix the problem. Just minimal donations rarely do much to help the problem as a whole. This I believe shows our growing lack of empathy that the author talks about in the previous chapters. Another reason I don’t like this new social trend is that sending your money off blindly can be dangerous. No one really takes the time to ask what exactly their money is going to and whether the foundation is even credible.

The internet has created opportunities to spark the interest of millions more with the stroke of a key, but bringing awareness is only the first step. Bringing individuals to action is what really makes the difference and just as the author argues the internet rarely motivates people to this extent. It is the face to face conversations that get people involved. It is a depressing thought to think about how desperately we don’t want to take the time to dwell on an issue because we need that instant gratification. We want a black and white simple one step answer so that we can fix it and move on. However, when this doesn’t seem to be the case we tend to skirt around the issue.

The ALS Ice bucket challenge that Turkle mentions also provides a clear example of how a seemingly noble cause became an empty form of social entertainment. I knew so many of my friends who participated in the challenge and posted it on their instagrams but never donated money. One can still argue that they were still helping by spreading awareness, but is that even true. It seemed to me that people completely ignored the original purpose and goal that the ice bucket challenge was supposed to stand for.

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