His wife, Brenda, complains, “It seems like he can no longer be fully in the moment.”
This is your brain on computers.
Scientists say juggling e-mail, phone calls and other incoming information can change how people think and behave. They say our ability to focus is being undermined by bursts of information.
These play to a primitive impulse to respond to immediate opportunities and threats. The stimulation provokes excitement — a dopamine squirt — that researchers say can be addictive. In its absence, people feel bored.
The resulting distractions can have deadly consequences, as when cellphone-wielding drivers and train engineers cause wrecks. And for millions of people like Mr. Campbell, these urges can inflict nicks and cuts on creativity and deep thought, interrupting work and family life.
While many people say multitasking makes them more productive, research shows otherwise. Heavy multitaskers actually have more trouble focusing and shutting out irrelevant information, scientists say, and they experience more stress.
And scientists are discovering that even after the multitasking ends, fractured thinking and lack of focus persist. In other words, this is also your brain off computers.
I feel like this is me, every moment of every day. I’m overstimulated. It’s not the same as just being overinvolved in campus activities and a bustling college social life. I used to be concerned about preventing Alzheimer’s. The experts recommended consistently breaking routines, taking different routes home and playing games like sudoku.
I fear I’m playing from the other side of the board now, heading toward the same end. Working in social media is…a bit nuts. I work on a write-up that’s due by the end of the week, then halfway through I feel like I have to check on Twitter. Someone sends me an email of a photo. I download it and upload it to Facebook. And then…What was I working on again? Oh, right, the write-up. I scour Flickr for photos cleared for reuse by Creative Commons, and look! Chows! Ideas for my basket full of side projects seem to pop up either when I’m: a) driving or b) taking a shower. I sit down while Bill queues up Netflix, and in my ADD impatience I have to either eat, play Bejeweled Blitz, or felt my busy bee.
Did I mention I have an iPhone 3Gs, iPod Touch, iPod with Video, Canon PowerShot, and sometimes borrow Bill’s Nikon DSLR for work? I regularly carry two notebooks in my laptop bag, plus a paper agenda (which is backed up by my personal iCal and work iCal).
I’m rather seriously concerned. My thus far successful dealing with this innately hyperactive nature got me where I am today, but I also wonder if I’m just setting myself up for one big crash.
Or maybe I’m just racking up justifications for vacations and time off.