06 April, 2006


Linda Stone has coined the term "Continuous Partial Attention" to describe the way iPod, cellphone, BlackBerry, Instant Messaging, voice mail, etc. addicts relate to the world. An article by Steven Levy captures her use of the term pretty amusingly.

Given all the discussion about ADHD, I'm wondering what everyone thinks about this phenomenon.

As I have explained in the past, I cannot multi-task. I would secretly doubt whether anyone can, but I have known women who multi-task efficiently and very completely. They are fun to watch, because they cannot *not* multi-task. I know a woman who gets lost in phone conversations if she is not playing a computer game at the same time. Get hearts up on the screen, and she converses much better.

I'm also not talking about driving and talking on the cell phone. (If anyone tells me to stop driving while playing the harmonica, they will be ignored.) Sure, that's a problem, but it's not personal until the accident.

I'm talking about people who try to IM 3 people at the same time as carrying on a phone conversation, while holding up their finger keeping me from leaving until they are done. I would much rather just go away and come back when they want to talk to me, except that blissful moment will probably never come. If talking to me means not talking to everyone else at the same time, I will never get their time.

What about BlackBerries in meetings? (I am getting worse about that one.) Taking a call in the middle of a conversation? (We once had a kid over for breakfast who ignored all calls while at the table. Very cool!) Email and IM while writing anything complex?

Here's my take.

We seem to want to stay electronically connected with a broad base of people, and are willing to sacrifice real connection to the people we're with to have the virtual connections. We hurt the people reading our faces in order to merely pacify the people who make up our personal networks. (I also think the root sin here is emotional laziness, but then I think everything boils down to laziness somehow.)

(says the blogger.)


Milly said...

I don't own anything more than a computer and cell phone. My phone at times drives my nuts. I try to pull over when I need to make a call or receive one, when I can. (Not nearly enough) The Mp3 and iPod? Do I need constant blather? My brother can read, talk, and watch television at the same time. I just don’t have that kind of commitment to my brain cells.

I agree these techno things take away from what we should be focusing on God and each other. I love my computer time with Bible study and views on God. I don’t play cards often. (Partially because they say they are experts, they aren’t) I know that I could easily become addicted.

I once, while conducting a meeting noticed a member of the group playing cards on his lap top. People were talking, while he was disrespecting us. I know that had I whipped out a deck of cards and started playing while he was speaking he would have been enraged.. How rude we are when we go to a check out lane on one of those things stuck in our ears.

When I walk (Or like when I use to run) I wanted no music or talking just me and God. We can always work it out when we are alone with all of my attention. I also enjoy walking with my husband just us one-on-one.

As for multi tasking moms have to our they will take over!

codepoke said...

Talked with my son about this. He says that amongst his age group, it is a pure power play and he hates it. "You" are not important enough to call "Me" away from my cellphone, etc.

Distraction is now a status symbol.

When I walk (Or like when I use to run) I wanted no music or talking just me and God.

Amen, Milly.

As for multi tasking moms have to our they will take over!

You know, though, it is more than that. I did the Mr. Mom thing when my kids were 1 and 3. It was cool. I enjoyed it, and I'm glad I did it, but I never could watch both of them and do something else.

You're right. They took over.

Well, not exactly. I always kept control, but we have a picture of my son at age 1 with scabs all over his head from where he fell down our porch stairs repeatedly. :8(

I succeeded in many ways, but I failed in a few key ones.

DugALug said...

There is so much to say about this, but I have had the same email account for 15 years.

People were skeptical about email, but AOL did change the way we communciate.

Unfortunately for me, other than a cell-phone and a cable-modem. My advancement in technology has been quite stilted.

I had a portable CD player but it was pretty short-lived.

None-the-less, these devices have changed everything in our society. Much of it comes down to what we are willing to put up with.

I can't believe I am even considereing getting my daughter a cell phone, yet here we are and I may be considered a 'bad parent' if I don't.

Society drives this, and growing company's, with their quest for 'efficiency', fuel it. Isn't ironic that they have found their workers so much less productive.


codepoke said...

I remember the skepticism about email. Quite a chuckle.

My son won't take a cellphone. It's an odd quandry. There's so many times I would like to tell him something, and cannot, but I admire his desire to stay disconnected as long as possible.

My daughter lives and dies by hers. I think maybe text messaging is a necessity in the age of divorce.

DugALug said...


Congrats on being the 'smart feller' of the week on the Realm. You must be filled with joy and pride.


codepoke said...

At The Realm, that really means something! Exactly what, it's hard to say, but I might have posted about it had I noticed. ;-)

Where I come from, though, that award is likely to draw second glances. The old mechanics would always say a person was a "right fart smeller."

DugALug said...


Sorry to mees up your stream again, but apparently Ken must have read this post. Take a gander on the Realm at the 'smart feller' this week.


codepoke said...


What a kick! (Look to the sidebar)