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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Come Join the Anti-Multi-Tasking Movement!

As I sit here at my computer writing this, I'm also watching a presidential documentary on TV, reading email messages, and checking out Huff Post while a house cat rests on the arm of my chair. Across the room, my husband checks his emails, archives data while twisting around to watch that same presidential documentary when it sounds like there's something interesting. We are the Multi-Taskers and, I suspect, you are, too.

How did we get here? When I was a little girl, I came home from school and did my homework to the sounds of the evening meal being cooked - no iPod, no radio, no television, emails, tweets! Homework time was a sacred and singular pursuit. Friends knew not to visit or call during homework time. That's not to say that I didn't get to see my friends. On the contrary, we friends would spend hours outside, jumping rope or just flat-out running as fast as our legs would take us. After friend time, there was meal time, spent with the buzz of conversation instead of the buzz of the Blackberry. Dinner was eaten at the dinner table, without a television in sight, and if the telephone rang, well, it just kept ringing because there were no phone calls allowed.

So what changed? Well, the rapid development and deployment of technologies for one. Technologies have grown ever more portable, and they've served to erode the artificial barriers that we erected in our orderly little pre-megabyte world. I can put the finishing touches on my boss's speech on a device the size of a cassette tape all from the comfort of my family room while Snooki smooshes with a Juice Head on the Jersey Shore and iTunes updates this week's pod casts. I can Skype from my kitchen to my best friend in San Francisco while fixing dinner and listening to my favorite Boston radio station online while reading the recipe I downloaded to the PDA in my apron pocket.

But it can't all be technology's fault - right?? Right, it can't be. I have to take some responsibility for where I currently find myself. Technology can be a bit like that character in my favorite movie, "All About Eve." The character "Eve is an upstart young actress who, upon meeting her idol, an older Broadway star played by Bettie Davis, insinuates herself into her life,  acting as wide-eyed innocent errand-girl while wrapping her tentacles round poor Bettie Davis. In the end, Ms. Davis fends off her younger rival, and defiantly breaks free of "Eve." I may not be able to defeat technology, and, to be honest, I don't really want to. I merely want some balance back in my life.

So here's my Anti-Multi-Tasking Movement Manifesto:

  • I will ignore the urge to update my Facebook status while standing in line at the store/Post Office/grocery store, etc. Instead, I will talk to the person in line with me instead.
  • I will sit next to my husband and watch a television show or movie with my PDA in silent mode.
  • When sitting next to my husband and watching a TV show or movie, I will resist the temptation to look up a relevant piece of trivia on said PDA and will, instead, make a mental note to look it up at a later time and deal with the temporary unease of not knowing.
  • I will sit at the kitchen table and read the hard copy of the daily newspaper.
  • I will eat all meals at the kitchen table or dining room table with only conversation and light background music as our accompaniment, and with my PDA in silent mode and shoved into my briefcase.
  • I will not read the NY Times, Huff Post, Thomson Reuters from my PDA while in bed.
So there it is. I know, you may not get that same flag-waving feeling like in "Les Miserables", but it's a start. I'm just saying:)

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