What this neat pop-science Boston Globe article does not address is why so many of us believe, no, know, that we are splendid multitaskers. If we were anywhere as bright and observant as we pretend, we’d see frightening reflections galore that suggest otherwise.
Adults, teens, even wee ones stumble and career into shelves, each other, closed doors and worse while punching into a (insert irony symbol, traditionally ) smartphone. More poignantly than the clown bumps and pratfalls, one aspect of device-distracted humans is texting while driving, too often, killing while doing so.
The article does deal extensively with another key aspect, how iPhones and their like are great programming tools. That is, they program their ostensible owners. In fact, they are the owner in the relationship.
I’ve dealt with and even obsessed on the whole mess here numerous times. Samples are in links to posts using multitask.
A current cliché is how smart the millennials and young folk are. Aren’t they masters of technology?
That would be a resounding, “No!” for them as a group. In fact knowing how to use the icons, menus and keys on a cellphone, being comfortable with numerous social-media and their keywords, do not translate into broader intelligence or even technology skills. Instead, as many of us note, we as a populace are being dumbed down, just as we are increasingly under the control of our devices.
By cracky, Mable, it isn’t just the kids either. In a supermarket, on the street and well, everywhere, the seemingly ubiquitous Androids, iPhones and such make humans hop. 60-year-olds as well as middle-schoolers largely cannot control themselves when their device tones or jiggles. They, the nominal owners, are dancing to the notes.
A few years ago, Boomer and older folk lamented the rudeness of folk putting their phones on the restaurant table, constantly scanning them, and unhesitatingly answering them should they command so. Of course that’s ill mannered and speaks poorly of whoever raised them. And, an alter kaker like I am tells people not to bring their phone out. I, perhaps self-righteously, tell them that in my house, if we’re having a family dinner when a cell or other phone rings, that call just goes to voice. We’re busy and in the moment.
Still, for all those people who believe they are smart enough to multitask, I wish awareness. When they respond like birds or other lower animals conditioned to push a button for food or perform some other stupid pet trick, will they please see that? Will they get a grip and realize they are in thrall to their $500 gadget?
My hope would be if a 17-year-old gains that level of awareness, it would be a teachable moment. Each enlightened lad or lass would show peers how to be in charge of the device, instead of the other way around.
That smarter lifestyle might even spread to their parents and grandparents. Honestly, humans can decide what’s really urgent.