To me, it’s plenty fun but at lunch with my friend Steve Culgan (@sculgan), we discussed what effects new technologies like Twitter, smartphones and the iPad have on people’s attention and our ability to just enjoy ourselves.
As Steve put it, the sheer volume of information and content that we are exposed to has the potential to make us more neurotic. Instead of being able to focus on just one thing (say, TV), there are now multiple channels competing for our attention. Rarely do we ever simply watch TV. For example, right now I am watching Algeria vs Slovenia on TV while writing this post on a laptop and checking Twitter on an iPhone.
The argument is that we are no longer able to live in the moment. Obsessive checking of Twitter and the feeling that you might be missing out on something only contribute to this growing neurosis. The problem is further exacerbated when you take into account the amount of noise when your followers grow.
Our ability to enjoy ourselves diminishes as we constantly worry that there could be something else we could doing.
My counter, however, is that while the tools have the potential to disrupt our lives (let alone our brain patterns), human beings are incredibly adaptable.
Just take a look at a typical high school kid. They are growing up in a world where these technologies and multitasking are the norm. They’ve figured out how to juggle all these competing media and still have a good time.
The challenge is for my generation and older who haven’t always had this in our lives and aren’t quite as adept at the whole multitasking thing.
We must know our limits and how much we can handle before it’s too much. As a parent, there is an opportunity to cost to being constantly plugged in. Family-time means giving them my full attention (or at least a close approximation of it) – not being constantly distracted checking-in or posting status updates. When it’s just me, I’m free to do as I please whether it be playing PS3, blogging, tweeting or generally wasting time online.
The point is, you must accept that there are some things you’re going to miss out on. The beauty of something like Twitter and social media is that the cream will rise to the top. Following the right people or subscribing to the right feeds gives me the confidence that if it’s important enough, I’m going to hear about it.
How do you go juggling multiple media devices? Does something have to give or can you do it all?