Addicted to Multi-Tasking

One evening I was driving down the six lane road close to our subdivision when another SUV buzzed by me going about sixty in the 45-mile-an-hour speed zone. I glanced over to see the speeding vehicle and I noticed the light of the driver’s cell phone held by him at the top of the steering wheel and he was texting…as he turned right!

We’ve been told about the perils of texting and driving, but, in my opinion, it was just another example of a culture that is addicted to multi-tasking. Many of us are finding it increasingly difficult to focus on one thing at a time. I put myself in that camp. As I watch The Andy Griffith Show on TV I’m playing the game Words With Friends on my iPhone and shelling peanuts.

I notice high school students at sporting events can’t simply cheer on their team and talk to their friends. They have to check their cell phones every thirty seconds for an incoming text, a just posted social media post, or to communicate to the person sitting beside him/her.

I’ve had a student this year in middle school that needs constant supervision in regards to his laptop, because he will jump from class assignment to playing a video game as easily as turning on a light switch. The temptation of the video game just a right click away is too much for him, and he can click back to the assignment at the speed of light.

There are many possible reasons for our multi-tasking addiction, or at least excuses. We’re busier people than we’ve ever been, right? My grandparents would disagree with that, rising at 4:30 in the morning to take care of the cows, and doing whatever needed to be done for as long as it took to do it! A more accurate defining of our fascination with multi-tasking is that we are a distracted culture. We chase squirrels in our thread of thoughts and ideas and find it challenging to finish assignments and projects.

I admit that there are many more opportunities and options today to give our divided attention to. In my growing up days our TV received three channels and one of them was fuzzy at best. Today we receive we so many channels and stream so many programs that we’d need to be cloned to view them all. Channel-surfing is just another variation of multi-tasking. It just means we can watch four different shows in the same block of time as we flip back and forth.

I see ramifications of this multi-tasking in relationships. People find it increasingly difficult to focus on a conversation for very long. I see it in my spiritual relationship. Prayer becomes a challenge because of the other thoughts crowding into my conversation. Staying focused on the words of the Old Testament book of Jeremiah without a sudden detour to something that catches my eye a few feet away is a dilemma.

Doing one thing at a time is antithetical to our culture. Doing many things mediocre is more common than doing one thing well.

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