Since I am living at my computer more than usual this week (co-coordinating the upcoming Pennwriters Conference) I’m reminded of this fascinating interview on NPR’s Fresh Air with technology journalist Matt Richtel. His series of articles for the NYTimes “Your Brain On Computers” describes how multitasking on computers and digital gadgets affects the way we’re all processing information.
Ongoing bursts of stimuli are hampering our ability to focus and keeping us in an exhaustive fight-or-flight mode (“ding”— will that email/tweet/post be good or bad?). Device overload is also keeping us from learning. Digital devices deprive the brain of much-needed downtime to embed information we’ve taken in. We used to get some downtime while waiting in line or even waiting for the traffic light. But now we constantly fill any free time by checking our devices. It’s actually changing the way kids’ brains are developing.
In the few minutes I’ve been writing this, my eye keeps jumping to my mail icon, which is telling me I’ve got 5 new emails. It’s all I can do not to hop over and look. I can barely focus on this post, and I’ve got an entire conference registration packet to write.
Crap. Now my inbox just hit double-digits. Just read the articles. Try to save yourself.