Tuesday, December 27, 2011

An Argument Against Multitasking

We're all busy people right? At the given opportunity, wouldn't it be better to hit two birds with one stone? To nail that upcoming final essay and build a sailboat with good ol' grandad? Of course! What could possibly go wrong with that? For one, you may find that both birds are only moderately injured and they come back with an avian army with a vengeance. Maybe you should have used two proper stones instead. Maybe six-ten stones to make sure they were dead would have been better.

Maybe calling your friends to bring their guns over would be a even better idea.

Recently, due to the technical buzz of the recent decade, people have found it more productive to do two, three things at once. But rather than support these self-destructive tendencies, we shall challenge them. Bluntly stated, multitasking is one of those things that accomplish the complete opposite of what you want to get done. The main idea of multitasking is getting the maximum amount of things done in a allotted amount of time. The problem is, you'll probably end up doing below your average levels of productivity by trying to do two or more tasks at once. Why? we'll tell you.

First off, you weren't multitasking in the first place; your brain simply cannot do two conscious tasks at the same time. In reality, your brain is actually doing one task and quickly transitioning to another so quickly that you cannot perceive it. When you're driving your car and texting on your phone, you're actually switching between texting and driving with the help of visual cues, (Such as bright headlights shining into your dashboard as you drive onto the wrong road) auditory cues, (Such as your phone ringing to alert you that somebody has responded to your hilarious comments) and other such cues from your various senses.

Maybe those cute owl pictures can wait until after you escape a high-speed pursuit by terrorists.

The problem with switching tasks back and forth is that your brain is forced to change its "thought context" constantly, which can make you more prone to mistakes and slow you down. Every time you switch from driving your car to texting, your brain has to re-establish what its doing and restart from where it left off. The more things you try to juggle at once, the less attention will be given at each individual tasks, which is where errors will begin to creep in. Along with the constant re-establishment and restart of the thought process, you'll rank up even more wasted time, in your effort to save time.

But hold on, aren't some people "really good" at multitasking? Aren't there people on this earth that can text six paragraphs, read a book, eat a banana, tie their shoes, and juggle two apples at the same time? Sure. The problem is, those people have trained their brains to switch thought contexts efficiently and quickly. While this is great for eating bananas and tying your shoes, a problem arrives when you're forced to concentrate on one large task alone, such as taking a major test in room with peering teachers.

So unless you tie shoes for a living, keep reading.

When one's trained brain is suddenly forced into a situation in which they are only allowed to concentrate on a single task, the person may/will find it difficult to concentrate due to the fact that they've condition their brains to spend only a few seconds on each task and to get ready to switch contexts at a moment's notice. This person may find themselves having difficulties concentrating as their brain constantly rings a little bell to start another task. Multitasking teaches you to do a bunch of tiny tasks at once, life requires concentrated attention and effort.

While this seems to only effect those tiny "once-in-a-lifetime" tests or activities, it actually effects your entire life. How? Multitasking conditions your brain to take as much information as you can, as fast as you can and move on. What happens as a result is the increased difficulty to analyze things beyond what they appear to be, in daily life. The constant tendency to skim information will make it more difficult to go beyond what's presented to you, which can prove useful to big business, people trying to lie to you, and omnipotent-striving governments. Without studying daily life in deeper depth, one may find themselves lacking in life and fail to mature beyond the basics what life has to offer.

Those teens and young adults that treasure their ability to multitask quickly, should think twice before accepting multitasking as a proper way of processing information. At the risk of wasting more time, doing things wrong more often, and decreasing your ability to concentrate and analyze information beyond normal capacity, is it really worth playing your favorite shooting game while writing your final?

You: "Yep."