Too Busy to Live
We’ve become so great at multi-tasking that many of us have forgotten the point
Are multi-taskers every truly, deeply engaged in anything, or is it all performed at a shallow, half-attention level just to get it done?
Let’s be clear: I am not here to cast shame of those of you who are good at multi-tasking. In fact, I’m a little envious. Maybe I’m just slow, but I’ve never been able to fully catch on.
It’s mystifying — some people seem to be able to do it all, all at once. But is this a gift or a curse?
An example: how many times have you walked into a restaurant and seen this: a couple sits across from each other, not engaged in deep conversation, but hunched over their respective phones. They might exchange a few words here and there, and maybe they even look up every now and then. Their food comes, and they eat, but not to savor it. Their attention is split between three things: the plate in front of them, the company across from them, and the phone by their side.
Another example: you meet online with a co-worker. While she is able to maintain a coherent discussion with you, something doesn’t feel quite right. She is not making direct eye contact with you across the video call, and she appears to be working from another screen — you can see the reflection in her glasses.
And a third example: you’re on the phone with a relative. You decide to put in your earbuds to talk so you can empty the dishwasher, fold the laundry, and dust — all while holding a conversation about her week and what she’s been doing lately.
What do all of these examples have in common?
There’s a few answers that might have come to mind: A) all of these examples involve some sort of technological distraction. B) They all involve a lost opportunity for deeper connection. C) They all make you feel a tinge of sadness — at least, they do me.
I am guilty of the third example — and the third one is what started to make me think that perhaps I need to ditch multi-tasking in favor of giving the person I’m interacting with, my aunt, my undivided attention.
When children are little, all they want is their parents’ loving gaze and to play with them. They…