The Empathy Diaries by Sherry Turkle [7/10]

Sherry Turkle has revolutionised our understanding of the role of the new IT and online communities, and, especially lately, the dangers of online interaction for psychological health. In “The Empathy Diaries: A Memoir,” she offers a beautifully, though simply, described memoir of the first phase of her life, narratively constructed as the interweaving of her intellectual journey with her childhood challenges and opportunities. What attracted me to read this was the promise of “the finding of meaning through a life’s work,” the telling of an existential trajectory carved out through Paris in 1968 and the IT revolution kicked off in the 70s and 80s. And the first two thirds of this heartfelt story was spellbinding, exploring her mother’s love and secretiveness, the quest to find (and then reject) her real father, all the while navigating the shoals of coming of age in one of the most tumultuous periods of human progress. In my reading, the final third sagged a little, mainly because the actual intellectual discourse under examination meant little to me, but at the end, I felt vindicated in reading The Empathy Diaries. If you are a nerd, not a jock (both appellations semi-jokingly offered), Sherry Turkle’s fulsome and yearning memoir may well speak volumes to you.

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