Wednesday, February 08, 2012

You Can't Multitask the God-Relationship

In the West, the era of One Thing has ended.

Paul wrote: For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. "Nothing... except..." Which means: "I resolved to know only this." Or: "I resolved to know one thing only."

As a culture we have lost, or are rapidly losing, our ability to focus on only one thing. Neurally, many are now incapable of this.

In today's nytimes I read: "In Data Deluge, Multitaskers Go to Multiscreens." The "data deluge" signifies the new era of Countless Things. The brain that struggles to morph into the ability to respond to countless things will lose its ancient ability to resolve to know but one thing. Say hello to "multi-screen multi-taskers."

"Workers in the digital era can feel at times as if they are playing a video game, battling the barrage of e-mails and instant messages, juggling documents, Web sites and online calendars. To cope, people have become swift with the mouse, toggling among dozens of overlapping windows on a single monitor. But there is a growing new tactic for countering the data assault: the addition of a second computer screen. Or a third."

Monitors are getting bigger, and people are staring at more of them. The workspace is begnning to look like Mission Control. "More and bigger screens can convey bragging rights, too."

So it's come to this. "My screens are bigger than your screens, and I've got more bigger screens than you!"

Why do this? Because multimonitor setups "increase productivity." Brave New World has arrived.

"David E. Meyer, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan whose research has found that multitasking can take a serious toll on productivity, said he buys the logic about toggling. But he also warned that productivity can suffer when people keep interrupting their thoughts by scanning multiple screens rather than focusing on one task." (emphasis mine)   

Multi-monitor-tasking is "thought-killing," says Meyer.  “Rome crashed and burned because it got too big. Go past that scale and you’re going to wind up like Rome.”

If all this becomes too much (which it will) a solution might be purchasing and downloading "Freedom Software" into your computers. Here's the website, which is simply (thank you) called "Freedom." We read:

"Freedom is a simple productivity application that locks you away from the internet on Mac or Windows computers for up to eight hours at a time. Freedom frees you from distractions, allowing you time to write, analyze, code, or create. At the end of your offline period, Freedom allows you back on the internet. You can download Freedom immediately for 10 dollars, and a free trial is available."

In other words, you can pay to silence your many monitors so you can be "free" to monotask. Philosopher James K.A. Smith comments that this is "the confirmation of the absence of virtue--that is, the absence of adequate internal dispositions to pursue the good and resist temptations away from that. In short, again technically speaking, such software is a corrective for the vice of sloth--but a wholly external corrective."

In the meantime, this week I have 170 Spiritual Formation students praying an hour a day. For many of them, this is a struggle. It's hard to just meet alone with God for the sake of knowing Only Him. But for some of them this will happen, and that is my prayer; viz., that there will be a successful "neural rescue." Only then will they enter the beautiful experiential world of Paul, a world where nothing else matters but the pure, focused, single-hearted love of God.