Saturday, March 6, 2010

Multitasking Life and Social Media

In the following post, I took a look at "Multitasking State of Mind," an article by Joanne Cavanaugh Simpson. I've responded with a look at my own life. In a nutshell, I agree and sympathize with Simpson's thoughts.

Social MediaI just checked twitter and three email accounts. I also skimmed a few blog posts and read some tweets. Originally, I sat down at the computer to write this essay, but I’ve just procrastinated for a few minutes in my social media circles. Pondering now, I think my time could have been better spent and, for the record, I’ve closed my browser and put away my phone.

Am I caught up in the multitasking, digital age? In comparison with some of my peers, I’ve just skimmed the surface.  I don’t have an iPhone and most of my social profiles were created for my job at an internet marketing firm. Yet, I still feel the effects of my heavy digital media use and lack of face-to-face socializing.

To me, the effects are largely negative. Rather than seizing the moment and talking to a professor, I shy away thinking I’ll just send a quick email. Rather than phoning friends, I’ll send a quick chat on Facebook. And frequently, I find myself on Hulu, Youtube, Digg, and many other online diversions while I should be utilizing my time in other, more “productive” avenues.

Two years ago, I hailed digital connections as innovative and the wave of the future. I saw how much time could be saved by texting or chatting online. I also applied the labels of “old-fashioned” to those people who denounced social media for its de-socializing effects.

As I watch my classmates meander on the web with laptops and smart phones, I somehow believe these students aren’t consciously choosing the multitasking lifestyle. Elements of a media-driven culture all play into the lives of students. Most of us were raised with the internet and the cell phone. Culturally, we’ve been raised to admire those with more innovative tech gadgets.

We also witness a great deal more interesting ideas, artwork, and cultures than our parents’ generation. Perhaps we let this constant exposure of interesting things others are doing invigorate our desires to do more and be more. Multitasking with digital technology is a way to do more and still stay connected socially.

Although mass media has been around for generations, new social media allows us have our own mass media community. We idolize ourselves in our “friend” and “follower” circles much like mainstream media idolizes a current pop star. In effect, we must be our own spokesperson, agent, and PR manager, while still doing regular tasks of day-to-day life like working and studying.

As I make plans to wean off social media an opposing thought comes to mind: “What if I miss something?” Students will have to decide on this tradeoff if they really want to add some “space in the mind.”

  • Interesting study surrounding this issue.

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