The reason why that’s the case is that when you practice distraction (which is what multi-tasking really is – paying attention to something that distracted you from what you were originally paying attention to), you’re training your brain. Why do most all of us seem to fall prey to these devices even as we know they’re causing a real problem for us? The first is that we’re perfectly mal-adapted, biologically speaking, to these devices. We’re radically over-developing the parts of quick thinking, distractable brain and letting the long-form-thinking, creative, contemplative, solitude-seeking, thought-consolidating pieces of our brain atrophy by not using them. Part II – What are we losing as a result of our short attention span and easy distractability? You’re eating lunch with a friend and they excuse themselves to the restroom. Now, you pull our your phone because being unstimulated makes you feel anxious. We didn’t think gap time and “boredom” were valuable.You’re training your brain to pay attention to distracting things. When our ancestors, the Geico guys, were sitting out on the savanna and the tree next to them rustled. My favorite summary line on this whole topic comes from Sherry Turkle, an MIT professor who studies technology and society. Digital connections offer the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship. Now that we’re losing it, we get a sense of just how valuable it was. Besides taking a break from distraction, another step is to ACTIVELY TRAIN your long-form attention and mindfullness. Whatever form it takes, make it a DAILY practice of slowing down. Perhaps the most interesting or provocative approach to solving it, harkens back to that line at the end of the Microsoft commercial – ‘we need a phone to save us from our phones’. There is a small academic movement called Slow Tech.But, make the reward random and people have a very hard time stopping. Do you know what the average # of text messages a 13-17 year old teenage girl sends and receives every month? The Slow Tech folks ask the question – can we alter the purpose of lifestyle technologies to focus on alternative aims? That people are going to be even more distracted, even more unable to pay attention to things for any length of time.
You don’t have to be single if you don’t want to be, Loriann.The funny part about distraction is that it’s a worsening condition.The more distracted we are, the more likely we are to get distracted.Go to any party you're invited to, join clubs with people who do what you like to do, volunteer, get involved socially. As a dating coach, I know that people resist it because they're scared to try something so unfamiliar to them.But it's like anything else – there's a way to do it successfully, and it's a great way to meet people you wouldn't normally meet.