Tugend, A. (2008, October 29). Multitasking can make you lose . . . um . . . focus. The New York Times. Retrieved January 5, 2015 from http://nyti.ms/1IGdD0P.
Alina Tugend is a popular columnist for the New York Times and other U.S. newspapers and magazines. She argues that multitasking makes people less effective at completing tasks rather than more effective. For example, while pairing some activities, such as listening to music while exercising or working on a project, may help improve a person’s creativity, dividing our attention between tasks that all require clear focus can harm our ability to do that work well. Tugend cites research from neuroscientists, psychologists, and psychiatrists to support her argument that multitasking not only harms us personally, but harms us socially in regard to our family, our relationships, and our work environments. She tells readers to stop multitasking and instead order our lives in such a way that we can focus on the successful completion of single tasks.
I like this article because it encourages me to slow down and focus, but I think it relates to my research issue, which deals with the question “How is technology making us dumber?” Tugend points out that electronic devices that should be making our life easier instead cause us to try to handle too many things at once, so we lose focus and don’t concentrate on anything. It seems to me that a shift has happened in our communication skills: nothing matters deeply to us if we can’t figure it out right away. We don’t try to understand something if we can’t Google it.
Right now my research is focusing on arguments neuroscientists are making about the effects of too much computer use on our brains. It appears that our hardwires are getting fried from technology – we watch a tv/movie/computer screen rather than take a walk; we listen to electronic music rather than sing our own songs or play our own instruments; we text rather than talk. I’d like to read Tugend’s Miller source to investigate the neuroscience angle further, but I’d also like to summarize her argument that by setting boundaries we can be more successful.