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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dept. of Proving What You’ve Suspected for Years

posted by on August 21 at 10:34 AM

“Multitasking” is bad for you:

Multitasking messes with the brain in several ways. At the most basic level, the mental balancing acts that it requires—the constant switching and pivoting—energize regions of the brain that specialize in visual processing and physical coordination and simultaneously appear to shortchange some of the higher areas related to memory and learning. We concentrate on the act of concentration at the expense of whatever it is that we’re supposed to be concentrating on.

“Multitasking” is bad for the world:

the end of the decade we may call the Roaring Zeros—these years of overleveraged, overextended, technology-driven, and finally unsustainable investment of our limited human energies in the dream of infinite connectivity. The overdoses, freak-outs, and collapses that converged in the late ’60s to wipe out the gains of the wide-eyed optimists who set out to “Be Here Now” but ended up making posters that read “Speed Kills” are finally coming for the wired utopians who strove to “Be Everywhere at Once” but lost a measure of innocence, or should have, when their manic credo convinced us we could fight two wars at the same time.

UPDATE: As commentor w7ngman notes, that last sentence isn’t just a diagnosis of the multitasking disease—it’s a symptom.

From the Atlantic.

RSS icon Comments


Trying to understand that last sentence also bad for you.

Posted by w7ngman | August 21, 2008 10:49 AM

Looks like that article was published in November 2007. I'm not sure what that implies about multitasking, but it doesn't say a lot for timeliness.

Posted by GrammarCop | August 21, 2008 11:16 AM

Me of not understand.

Deref multiple task windows and reattach dictionary and grammer functions.

Thanks of.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 21, 2008 11:25 AM

There have been studies out for a couple years showing that people who try to do things at once do both slower. The study I remember involved math problems. People who just performed all the steps without stopping spent less time than people who went back and forth between tasks.

Not that this knowledge will make an impact on Twitter Nation. I think there is a strong element of escapism in the supposed "connectivity" revolution.

Posted by flamingbanjo | August 21, 2008 11:36 AM

Sorry, "TWO things at once."

Shouldn't post while I'm making a sandwich.

Posted by flamingbanjo | August 21, 2008 11:55 AM

When did we suddenly become culturally homogeneous? The always-connected social-networked techophiles were less likely to favor the Iraq war than the average American (or at least faster to wake up and see what a stupid idea it was).

As long as we're flogging stereotypes, it is the barely-educated xenophobic liberal-hating Jesus-loving Bush-worshipers who did (and still do) favor the Iraq war. Clearly that means Jesus is bad for society.

Posted by Rhiannon | August 21, 2008 12:15 PM

When I multitask, I perform activities that don't require my undivided attention. Those activities also tend to be incredibly tedious. So much so that I don't care if multitasking slows me down somewhat; dividing my attention keeps me from avoiding performing those tasks altogether.

Posted by keshmeshi | August 21, 2008 12:53 PM

I have ADHD - welcome to my world.

Lets go ride bikes.

Posted by bobcat | August 21, 2008 2:05 PM

What @7 and @8 wrote.

Posted by Mike of Renton | August 21, 2008 6:59 PM

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