Pardon the Interruption

Everybody just relax! Take a breath. And think. Is this how we want to experience life? Is this the future?

I’m talking about this revolution of continuous virtual connectivity. I love the fact that I can stay connected with people from high school, my family, and comedians all in the same place. It only gets uncomfortable when my Aunt Audrey and Chris Rock gang up on Bill Carrigan. So what if he’s a little over-enthusiastic about his new phone.

I thought I had it under control with facebook and twitter. But, twitter never stops. Facebook updates are quick reads until you realize you’ve spent an hour paging down. And now that I’m exploring tumblr, wordpress and pinterest, I find myself tabbing between sites, depending on whether I want a quick joke, a picture, a thought-provoking essay or a lesson in self-righteous judgment (repost if you agree!)

Then, there’s the fact that I have another career that pays the bills. My work requires diligence with emails all day long - from 7am for East Coast requests, throughout the day, and then many times ending with an event that could go as late as 10pm.

With all the distractions and multi-tasking, I find myself living on the edge. That, and the caffeine. I don’t feel like I can really control my time or my brain any more. If I’m not careful, I lose track of time and find myself at the end of the day trying to account for where I was. I hope there are no dead bodies out there waiting to be discovered.

I believe the core of this problem comes from our changing chemistry. The social networking sites create little chemical bursts every time you connect with someone or get a positive response to your posting, and then your brain follows it back over and over for another hit. I think some scientists have even proven it’s officially addictive. And the self-induced interruptions multiply exponentially. So, now when my wife and I retire to the bedroom for some television, we could be sitting in bed for an hour before we realize that the Japanese language channel has been playing – we’re both so busy surfing on our iProducts. Point of fact, I checked my email, facebook, and twitter twice while writing that sentence!

My attention span gets split into half a dozen different directions at once like an octopus on the high beam.  I can’t pay attention to anything more than 3 minutes now. And the span grows ever shorter. I know this is a common problem. I’ve heard similar stories so often that it’s become our generation’s version of talking about the weather.

Yesterday I saw a puppy having a blast, despite the owner’s intent on ignoring her so he could read his newspaper. Maybe he spent the previous 10 hours with the dog and just tuned it out. Or, maybe he’s just a cranky old man who doesn’t want to spend time or money on proper training. But, that didn’t stop the puppy. Yap, yap, yap, yap, yap, yap, yap, yap! So cute. So much energy. So many barks. Okay. That’s enough now. The dog wasn’t slowing down. Someone shut that dog up already! Facebook is that little puppy. If I don’t get a grip soon, I might leave facebook in the hot car with the windows up.

The future promises nothing but more of the same. Kids text during live conversations with other people, while watching YouTube on the computer and updating their facebook status, with the television on as background. Is this multitasking reality the next step in human evolution? We simply need to add a permanent cell phone mic to our tooth, contacts for our eyes with a Google Goggle feed, and brainwave-activated head sensors to send text messages to our dogs. Will our brains step up to function at a higher level of consciousness? Or, will we lose our ability for longer moments of connection with each other?