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Friday, September 20, 2013

You aren't multitasking: You are fracturing, destroying and distracting.

I got out of my car and headed to the grocery store. Nothing special about that. I have done that thousands of times over the course of a lifetime. But in the last couple of years it has become a much different experience. 
Now, I have to be the eyes and ears of others. Why is that? Because they are so busy multitasking they can't even complete the simple task of getting groceries and walking back to their cars without almost running you over, and getting run over themselves by cars they don't see or by other drivers who don't see them because they are doing exactly what they are doing--except behind a vehicle weighing 2000 pounds and traveling fast enough to end their lives. 


So, I headed to the store. I wanted to get a shopping cart. But I couldn't. The woman in front of me was doing the same thing when she stopped to text someone about something that was probably about nothing. Certainly nothing that couldn't wait 10 seconds until she got out of other peoples way. Except that she wouldn't have noticed if there was anyone or anything there. She was locked into that Iphone and whatever was on it.
So, I waited. Eventually, she did finish, and then said sorry, like most Canadians do. Except she wasn't sorry. That is just what people say.
After I was done with that escapade, which is one I face just about every time now at the grocery store, I just had to get in the store through the doors. That seemed simple enough, but again, it wasn't. Another lady was on her phone, and stopped right in between the doors to finish her call, not realizing, or caring that she was in the way. What can I do? Bump into her and knock her over and pretend I didn't see her? Yes, I could do that. But that would be mean, and I'm not mean. Frustrated? Yes, I am frustrated. I have to deal with this crap because these people don't even realize how selfish and rude they have become. They likely would stop if they realized it, but since they are in the majority now, they don't and think it is okay to do these things. 
The final task was to go through checkout. Again, seems simple. But same issues. A woman was on her cell not paying attention to the cashier. Then she takes longer to actually pay, and then realizes she didn't want an item, so she has to have it taken off the bill, which takes more time, and finally after she pays, she decides she wants 20 bucks cash back and she takes more time. Of course, she knew all along she needed more cash, but she wasn't paying attention. Her attention was on her handheld device. I suppose she and others would say that they can do two or three things at once, but the truth is they cannot. Most cannot. 
At work we are pretty decent multitaskers, because we have to be these days to survive in that jungle. But in their daily lives, we cannot keep up anymore. Too many conversations, images, calls, texts and whatever else they are into have distracted people and fractured them to the point that not only aren't they multitasking well, they also can't do one single simple task well. Like going to the grocery store, getting a cart, going in the front door and then paying for the groceries. 
That is not where this blog started when I intended on writing it. It started below when I got the idea, and it is something even more disturbing than the annoyance that I described above. This was two days earlier. Similar experience, except it didn't happen to me, I just observed it.
I pulled out of the driveway. I was on the way to the grocery store to get a few things. I have done this thousands of times over the course of a lifetime. I heard a woman talking. But there was no one else there. Just her and her dog walking on the sidewalk. Only, she didn't even notice the dog and what it was doing. She was on her phone.
The dog pulled towards the street. She had one of those stretch leashes that gives the dog more leeway than we used to so it wont get its head jerked back. That only works though if they can actually have that leeway safely and that requires the owner to pay attention. This lady was not. She was multitasking. Doing two things at once. Walking her dog and having a long conversation on the phone. It used to be that you walked your dog, and you paid attention to your dog. That was the experience. Walking the dog. Now, the dog is secondary. You do it because the dog needs the walk, but other than that, you are not really there in mind and spirit (and barely body) with the dog. You are locked into that phone call, which I have seen go on for almost an hour straight. 
I saw the dog pull hard towards another dog, which was across the street. A car was coming down the road, and I was backing into the road on the other side. The dog was in serious jeopardy of being hit and run over, and likely crippled or killed. 
The dog pulled hard, but the car missed it. The owner never noticed. I guess at some point she felt the leash yank on her, when the dog reached the end of the loose part, and she pulled it back. But not because of the car. She never noticed the car that almost killed her dog. I suspect she hadn't noticed it the 100 times before or the 100 more times it is going to happen. Until the one time that her dog gets killed and is lieing in a heap of blood on the street. Then, she will cry and be sad. Sadly, too late for the dog. 
Of course, I have a point to all this. You aren't multitasking: 
You are fracturing, destroying and distracting. Maybe you can get away with multitasking at work, although I suspect in most cases you probably do poorer work in the overall scheme of things if you added it all up. But nobody really cares about that. In real life, you aren't gaining anything by making phone calls you need to make while you do other things like go to the grocery store or walk your dog. 
These are the things that are part of life and they are to be done or enjoyed as is. They aren't tasks you can piggyback onto other things. In the case of walking your dog, that is to be enjoyable in of itself. 
Maybe just to be by yourself, when you are neither walking a dog or doing errands like getting groceries. I see this when going for my walks. People can't just walk and be alone with their thoughts. They are head down, texting, or talking on their phones and sometimes walking right into trees or other people. I have seen cyclists almost run them over and they never see them coming.
We have taken a great technology and distorted it to the point that it is counterproductive rather than an enhancer to our lives. 
And when a dog dies one day and the owner says they weren't paying attention, we shouldn't be surprised. We see this daily now, and it is just an accident waiting to happen. Much like the woman who is going to get hit in the parking lot, either because she isn't paying attention or the driver isn't. 
Either way, it is time to wake up and realize what you are actually doing. And it isn't multitasking.
Multitasking is doing two tasks equally well at once. That isn't happening.

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