As usual, Im having trouble focusing. Its the last day of the week that I can devote completely to my writing, and yet the gravity of that does little to motivate me. I should be taking full advantage of this day to myself, but instead I am resisting the temptations of the internet, television, and a nap. This is no easy feat all are well within my reach. But I figure that writing to you, while not technically something that will advance my career as an author, is more productive than any of the alternatives. At least its writing, right?
Do you ever have trouble getting yourself to sit down and concentrate on a single task? I recently read an Atlantic Monthly article that discussed whether or not Google is making us stupid. It argues that modern media (the internet in particular) has reduced everything to snippets, meaning that we grow accustomed to reading, hearing, and watching information in short bursts and thus have lost our ability to stay engaged with longer works. I cant say for sure if thats true, but I do know that I am working in one, two, three eight different windows on my computer screen right now. Hows that for short attention span?
(The article goes on to talk about a great many things related to how reading different types of materials long, short, ideograms like Chinese characters, etc. affects the circuitry of our brains, and how perhaps what we input to our minds affects what we output. Its all very fascinating. You can, ironically, Google it to read the whole thing.)
I remember when we took World History together in our junior year of high school, and our teacher told us that unlike most teachers, she would never yell at us for doing off-task things in class. She said that if we were smart enough to be in her honors class, then she trusted us to multi-task. Wed only get in trouble if we didnt do our homework or werent able to answer a question that she asked us.
At the time, I thought that was extremely cool and forward-thinking of her. She understood the way we worked! But now I cant help wondering if our ability to multi-task is really a blessing in disguise. For me, doing more than one thing at a time usually means Im just not doing any of those things very well. I think Id rather be a master of one trade than a jack of them all.
But can I re-train myself to focus on a single task and finish it before I go on to the next?
Well, I wrote this letter to you in one sitting. I dont think it means that Im cured, but I think its a sign that the diagnosis is correct and the medicine may be starting to work.
Now that thats off my chest, I should probably return to my writing