Editorial: Life as a “multi-tasker”

Editorial: Life as a multi-tasker

In my advanced oral rhetoric class, a student boldly stood up in front of the class and listed his two pet peeves: dirty bathrooms and “being ignored.”

I have been aware, as of late, that I am guilty of ignoring people sometimes — actually, let’s make that frequently. I frequently choose to work on more than one thing at once. I keep talking on the phone while I order my beverage at Starbucks. I send out some emails during a class lecture. I text my cousin while talking to a friend.

It seems the more responsibility I take on, the more things I try to do at once. It is not that I am not interested in the person, discussion or presentation before me. It isn’t even that I am not paying attention. In fact, I oftentimes find that I have paid more attention to a lecture when I am also working on something else. I think it has to do with the fact that I am keeping my mind and my hands active instead of dozing off or getting lost in thought.

While this is a confession in itself, I will now tell you my true confession: I do not feel the need to apologize for working on two things at once. I find I am more productive this way. I feel better about tackling everything on my plate when I am working on them continually.

Every year, I find it a bit easier to accomplish all this “multi-tasking.” I now frequently text from my computer, the device on which I also take notes in class. I can check all three of my email accounts from my phone while I am out to dinner or at a movie.

It is not just me. I see many peers do the same. I almost don’t notice when my friends check their phones anymore. If you google “millennials and technology,” you will find over nine million results. These results will argue for and against the use of technology for communication. They will praise and criticize millennials for their fast-paced, “multi-tasking” ways.

I have read many of these articles and opinions and can appreciate both sides. There are times I feel as though I can sense someone’s annoyance with my attention to something else. There are other times when I feel like my promptness in responding to someone, regardless of whatever else I am doing, is very much appreciated.

In short, I’m caught at a crossroads. I don’t want to feel as though I have to choose between productivity and the appreciation of a friend or a professor. Maybe I don’t have to. In “ignoring” the person in front of me, I am valuing the other person with whom I am communicating. Perhaps, just like everything in life, this simply requires good judgement and communication skills.

~lmd