Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Multi-tasking is computer-speak for the ability of a person to perform more than one task at the same time, but what it’s really about are the interruptions and distractions that plague us in our daily lives. Employers love to talk about multi-tasking because they think it increases production, and therefore profitability. But it’s really only applying Henry Ford’s industrial assembly-line model to human beings. Translation: one employee doing the work of two, or more. Notice I didn’t say multi-tasking improves quality. Its products cannot possibly feature fine craftsmanship. Yet we all do it, don’t we? Rushing around, trying to cram ’way too many jobs into our overly busy days, foreshortening vitally needed leisure time in order to feed the machine, trying to satisfy everyone at the same time. Surely it’s a definition of institutionalized insanity. Think about call-waiting, only one of the abominations foisted upon an unsuspecting public by the various phone companies. It’s considered rude to butt into someone’s private conversation, but somehow okay if that conversation takes place on the phone. And when it comes to getting customer service, what chance does a live human being stand against a ring tone? Consider the larger issue of cell phones themselves. Not only do they continually go off at inappropriate moments, they also make it impossible to escape from conversations we do want to hear, such as in line at the grocery store or restaurant. Thanks to this marriage of multi-tasking and digital technology, we can now be on-call 24/7, tracked anywhere by anyone with access to Radio Shack, and have our private conversations monitored by Big Brother. Is that great, or what? Motorists, already accustomed to multi-tasking behind the wheel (everything from shaving to applying makeup) now can also talk on their cell phones--or text--while in traffic. We all know how much this improves a driver’s concentration and focus. And remember, today’s multi-tasker may well be your brain surgeon tomorrow.

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