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Multitasking Our Way to Distraction

Posted on Jun 7, 2010
iPad birthday cake
Flickr / Extra Ketchup

Plug ’n’ play: Here’s a quiz, kids—which one is for eating?

What do we stand to gain from all our gadgetry in this, our wired (not to mention wireless) era? Improved manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination? The ability to soundly defeat pixelated alien hordes via video games?

Some of those potentially beneficial side effects may well occur with repeated use of various technological implements such as iPads and tricked-out cell phones, but as this somewhat alarming New York Times piece proposes, the costs may well outweigh the returns in terms of quality of life.  —KA

The New York Times:

Other times, Mr. Campbell’s information juggling has taken a more serious toll. A few weeks earlier, he once again overlooked an e-mail message from a prospective investor. Another time, Mr. Campbell signed the company up for the wrong type of business account on, costing $300 a month for six months before he got around to correcting it. He has burned hamburgers on the grill, forgotten to pick up the children and lingered in the bathroom playing video games on an iPhone.

Mr. Campbell can be unaware of his own habits. In a two-and-a-half hour stretch one recent morning, he switched rapidly between e-mail and several other programs, according to data from RescueTime, which monitored his computer use with his permission. But when asked later what he was doing in that period, Mr. Campbell said he had been on a long Skype call, and “may have pulled up an e-mail or two.”

The kind of disconnection Mr. Campbell experiences is not an entirely new problem, of course. As they did in earlier eras, people can become so lost in work, hobbies or TV that they fail to pay attention to family.

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By Mike, June 21, 2010 at 9:58 am Link to this comment
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I always believe that just because they are out there, there is no need for everyone of us to use them. It is important to educate the youth to use things that they want not because someone else is using it, but because they want it. I don’t think there is any harm done if you buy and use the gadgets that you specifically want..

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By rollzone, June 9, 2010 at 1:31 pm Link to this comment

hello. meditation and the inner self can be a very deep
journey. having the coolest technology the world has to
offer, to share yourself with others around the world
instantaneously, and being able to research an
unlimited wealth of information at your fingertips, to
enrich and nourish ones inner self: enables a more
rewarding living experience. promoting the continuing
development of personal technology is important for its
advancement. i await a holographic projector from my
personal communicator. the perspective of maintaining a
life beyond technology can be even more fulfilling.

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By Jerry Gerber, June 8, 2010 at 8:53 pm Link to this comment
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Technology is seductive, perhaps even psychologically addictive for many.  Even when one uses it productively and creatively, our machines still require maintenance, countless repetitive hand and finger motion and our eyeballs.  There is a simple, free and highly effective remedy:  Meditation.  Sitting quietly, one can turn inward, to the inner reality, the inner universe inside each one of us.  Just a simple act of watching the breath for 10 minutes can do wonders for centering, balancing, and adjusting your brain and body to all of reality, not just the informational and mechanical aspects of our lives.  Our media, our government and our largest institutions act more like machines rather than beings with humanity.  Meditation, regardless of one’s beliefs, faith or lack thereof, is a powerful tool for gaining self-knowledge, and without that, as our institutions show us every day, there can be no wisdom. 

Jerry Gerber

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By cheyennebode, June 7, 2010 at 1:10 pm Link to this comment
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