Pay Attention, Multitaskers – If You Can
(Yes, that’s the same headline I used on my page A2 tonight)
I was just as shocked as the scientists who performed this study to find that people who multitask the most are the lousiest at it. Meaning that their memory is worse, they have a harder time focusing, and they “can’t ignore the stuff that doesn’t matter.”
According to The Associated Press:
The people who multitask the most are the ones who are worst at it. That’s the surprising conclusion of researchers at Stanford University, who found multitaskers are more easily distracted and less able to ignore irrelevant information than people who do less multitasking.
“The huge finding is, the more media people use the worse they are at using any media. We were totally shocked,” Clifford Nass, a professor at Stanford’s communications department, said in a telephone interview.
This is alarming to me mostly because I’m a crazy multitasker, like most people my age. Mom, please don’t read after the jump.
I’m a big put-on-lipstick-while-switching-lanes-and-calling-my-boss kind of girl. And by calling I mean texting. And by lipstick I mean pantyhose. And by lanes I mean health care providers. Like I said. Multitasking. But according to this study, I the fact that I do all these things at once makes me less able to focus on any of them at all, less able to divide my attention — and less able to concentrate on one task when one task is all I’ve got in front of me.
According to the researchers, those who are big multitaskers are just fiends for mental activity. That doesn’t mean they’re good at organizing or focusing upon it.
“They couldn’t help thinking about the task they weren’t doing,” said the lead author of the study, Eyal Ophir. “The high multitaskers are always drawing from all the information in front of them. They can’t keep things separate in their minds. High multitaskers just love more and more information. Their greatest thrill is to get more.”
What I draw from this is that society has spoiled my generation into a bunch of information whores. We’re so used to that influx of media that now we’re addicted to it — must text! And call! And drive! Blackberries and Wiis and iPods! All at the same time! I am a great multitasker, I know it, and I love technology — my only problem is I can’t focus unless every orifice I have is plugged into the Matrix. Is that weird? Now someone hand me my Nintendo DS, I need something to do while I download the latest version of Pandora to help me focus on the book I’m reading on my Kimble.