Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Millennial Multitasking - Matchless Mannerism?

My (our?) generation is known for many things-- elder social commentators look aghast at our binge drinking, our abandonment of romanticism, and our brash refusal to get flu shots. But perhaps more than anything else, we're known for our dizzying multitasking-- our unparalleled ability to carry on simultaneous conversations via text, phone, e-mail, and seven different chat windows, all whilst engaging the friend actually sharing the couch and, at least theoretically, writing up a report, too.

It's baldly apparent that our forbears don't share this skill. If they're reading the newspaper, they're reading the newspaper, and a ringing Blackberry is not an expected-- even welcome-- diversion, it's a distraction. So my wondering-out-loud question of the day is if this unique skill is a product of growing up in the age of 28.8 kbps dial-up modems.

I remember the day when it took 30 seconds to load, and a solid three minutes to see a page with lots of pictures. In that era, I and my millions of peers, with our 12 year-old attention spans, had little choice but to find alternative entertainment while Jeeves went in search of the answer to our questions. Whether it was AIM, or an offline game, or something not even computer-related, anything was better than watching a graphic load, one line at a time.

But my question is: Will younger generations (say, those in their toddling years today) also be monotaskers? Will they grow up pampered with high-speed web connections that obviate the need to learn this art? Or is it just the nature of modern technology that encourages our behavior?


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