I read this just after getting home from the restaurant where I’d left my credit card after paying because I was preoccupied with making sure Ralph was at ease. We’d been dining with another couple. The woman knows about Ralph’s condition, I wasn’t sure about her husband. Ralph began to repeat himself a bit and I became overly convivial. I knew Ralph was fading since it was after eight. But it took forever to get the check and while I was writing in the tip, our friends introduced Ralph to acquaintances at the next table. One was a man who once contributed, sight unseen, to a non-profit organization Ralph headed. Ralph became confused and anxious about how they knew each other, and I became anxious to get out of there. When our waitress came running with the credit card a few minutes later I was embarrassed. But I can’t say I was surprised.
So this article really hits home.
Neuroscientist and author Frances Jensen, in describing what normal life has become for most of society, calls what happens neurologically dementia of the preoccupied.
It’s an apt term. It’s also the brain mimicking dementia symptoms, because our brains aren’t wired to do continual rapid attention/task shifts nor is it wired to multitask.
Despite a lot of evidence that a 24/7 connection to technology (produces a neurological condition, which includes changes to the structure of the brain, known as digital dementia) and multitasking are not only damaging the brain long-term, but they also reduce productivity dramatically (the effect neurologically is exactly the same as staying awake for 24 hours or more or smoking marijuana), a 24/7 connection to technology and multitasking are still seen as badges of honor and are highly prized both professionally and personally.
The problem with multitasking is that we can’t really multitask. Neurologically, we are wired to focus all our…
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