“The Empathy Diaries: An Evening with Sherry Turkle, Ph.D.,” a conversation between Sherry Turkle, Ph.D. and Rabbi Wendi Geffen, will be held on Wednesday, March 24, beginning at 7:00pm via Zoom. The event is free and open to the public, suitable for ages 12 and up. Registration is required.
Since the earliest days of computer culture, MIT researcher and preeminent media scholar Sherry Turkle, Ph.D., the Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT and the founding director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self, has been sounding an alarm about our engagement with digital technology. In her 2011 book Alone Together, Dr. Turkle diagnosed how living behind our screens undermines our social connections and emotional lives. Her 2015 New York Times bestseller Reclaiming Conversation proposed a solution: to look up from our screens and talk to each other. Yet the past year has forced many of us into more screen-dependent isolation than ever before. What does Sherry Turkle make of our post-pandemic landscape?
In her new memoir The Empathy Diaries, Dr. Turkle explores a counterintuitive pattern across her lifetime of work devoted to keeping people connected: that empathy and connection can arrive when we feel the most alone and unfamiliar. Reflecting on her coming-of-age and a path-blazing career, The Empathy Diaries is full of honest and surprising lessons that meet our moment when empathy seems in short supply. Dr. Turkle traces her interest in empathy back to her childhood in postwar Brooklyn, when a turbulent relationship with her family showed her the importance of open communication from an early age. She reflects on her college days studying at Radcliffe and in Paris in the late 1960s, when social norms were rapidly being upended. She writes compellingly about her struggles in the 1970s as a young woman researcher in a male-dominated discipline, and of her battles to achieve tenure at MIT where she was often (and incorrectly) labeled as “anti-technology.”
Throughout, Dr. Turkle shares insight on her most personal relationships — with family, spouses, friends, and with colleagues as diverse as Jacques Lacan and Steve Jobs — as object lessons in developing the empathy necessary to make and maintain deep connections.
Dr. Turkle will be in conversation with Rabbi Wendi Geffen, senior rabbi at North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe, where she has been a part of the rabbinic team since 2002. A visionary, thought leader, and distinguished orator and teacher, Rabbi Geffen is passionate about Judaism, Torah, and the ways these ancient sources of wisdom add meaning to people’s lives and enable them to better the world today.