On Motherhood & Sanity

Thursday, February 18, 2010

What the Internet is doing to your brain

So this is what my typical morning looks like:

Wake up (after many snoozes). Get kids to school (after long and loud negotiations). Start checking email over morning coffee (one of life’s greatest pleasures). Begin writing report, then check twitter. Tweet. Continue with report. Prepare a toast. Respond to incoming (work) email. Call to confirm meeting that work email just reminded me of. Check facebook. Eat toast. Go back to report. Look at last version of edited photos. Edit photos (again). Go back to initial photo agreement to remember original plan. Tweet. Go back to report. Email friend about Friday dinner. Check email. Respond to email (kitchen stove needs to get repaired). Call garage. Open agenda, look at “to do” list. Add things to “to do” list, (some which I have already done, but want the pleasure of crossing out). Tweet. Check email. Check agenda to respond to work email, get side tracked to doctor appointment that needs to be re scheduled. Drink coffee. Check email. Pray that I finish report draft before school pick up time. Make it just in time to pick monkey up from school on my bicycle.

And this is fine with me.

I like working this way. I work alone at home at the best of times, on most occasions I work amidst toys that are carefully deposited on top of whatever I am trying to read, or accompanied by philosophical discussion along the lines of


‘no, mine!’

and indeed what came first, the chicken or the egg?

I like the interaction that the social media provides me with, its almost akin to a colleague popping by to say hi on their way to the coffee machine. I like being able to do many things at the same time, and having my breaks, all within the comfort of my own study. But lately I have noticed worrying signs of spill over.

I often find myself in the fruit section of the local supermarket thinking ‘ the white balance is off,’ or going into the dry cleaners and thinking ‘need to saturate the reds here’.

More troublingly, I apply this work methodology to other areas where it is not so applicable, like putting water to boil in order to cook pasta, and only return once the water has evaporated and a strange smell is taking over the house. Or leaving linens to soak in the sink, for days on end.

While reading a nice novel, have you ever felt the urge to press “Ctr+F” to locate something you liked? More significantly, the irritation of not being able to do so?

I also realize that my attention span has decreased significantly. I am absolutely unable to sit through commercials. I often try to fit in conversations with my husband, which goes ok until I leave him half sentence in order to return to my program. When I attempt to pick up where we left off on the next break I’ve usually lost him. So then I flick through a magazine or, sadly and more often, pull out the lap top and check my email, facebook, tweet, or cruise the net. This is pretty bad I know, but last week I knew I was in trouble when I found myself attempting to check my email on my iphone at a red light. Even that appears to be too long a time for me to stay idle.

My kids are 100% part of what they call the MTV generation. They will grow up watching news snippets of 30 seconds, the internet where everything is available on demand, even cartoons seem to be following this worrying trend. There is a constant fight to keep our attention by making the messages simpler and shorter, trying to stand out through loud sounds, bright colours…. you name it someone is trying it. How will this affect them? Will they be able to read one of the classics, start to finish? can I protect them from this when I am not even able to protect myself?

I attach a photo I took yesterday, and yes, that is me taking a photo while driving. See what I’m talking about?

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