Sometimes, we become deeply absorbed in thought, unaware of our immediate surroundings; we become absent-minded, unable to perform our basic tasks. From the moment I first noticed this person, it took me about thirty seconds to prepare my camera. His expression had not changed...

Despite popular references to our "amazing" multitasking abilities, research indicates that human multitasking - performing two or more tasks simultaneously as effectively as one - is a myth. In fact, the more we multi-task, the more our cognitive function seems to decrease.

Some claim that, as a consequence of all the technological distractions available to us, we are hindered from completing tasks, have difficulty learning things with any insight, and even become less capable of self-reflection. Cell-phones, video games, magazines, multiple channels on TV, advertisements, and especially the Internet increase our immediate sources of input. Rather than focusing on one thing at a time, we get by in a state of continuous partial attention, skimming the surface of incoming data at a superficial level, picking out some details, and then moving on the the next stream. This is not multi-tasking; it is a way of dealing with sensory overload.

Another concept related to the side-effects of technology is information overload. Overabundance of incoming information leads to difficulties in sorting through this information and in making reasonably correct decisions required for our rational behavior. "Distraction" and "confusion" are rapidly replacing "absorption" and "focus". In the past, we used to be occasionally absent-minded because we became absorbed in thought. These days, we are continuously absent-minded because we are ever-distracted and confused. Once in a while, we have to put all technology and distractions aside, and allow ourselves to take a moment to unwind.

Song of the Day: Overkill - Men At Work (1983)
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