The way we are

Wired man

This is an old NY Times article (ancient, in Internet time) but I think it does a scary job of describing many of us super-connected,

multitasking “speed demons:”

These speed demons say they will fall behind if they disconnect, but they also acknowledge feeling something much more powerful: they are compulsively drawn to the constant stimulation provided by incoming data. Call it O.C.D. — online compulsive disorder.


Pseudo-ADD: They become frustrated with long-term projects, thrive on the stress of constant fixes of information, and physically crave the bursts of stimulation from checking e-mail or voice mail or answering the phone.


”It’s like a dopamine squirt to be connected,” said Dr. Ratey, who compares the sensations created by constantly being wired to those of narcotics — a hit of pleasure, stimulation and escape. ”It takes the same pathway as our drugs of abuse and pleasure.”


”It’s an addiction,” he said, adding that some people cannot deal with down time or quiet moments. ”Without it, we are in withdrawal.”

”Ten years ago, you had to be in the office 12 hours,” said Mr. Mehlman, who said he now spent 10 hours a day at work, giving him more time with his wife and three children, while also making use of his wireless-enabled laptop, BlackBerry and mobile phone.

Do you see the irony? He doesn’t work 12 hours, he works “only” 10, that’s so much more time with his family!

On playing with his son (dogfight with Lego airplanes):

Both love the game, and it has an added benefit for Dad: he can play with one hand while using the other to talk on the phone or check e-mail. […] ”While he rebuilds his plane, I check my e-mail on the BlackBerry,” Mr. Mehlman explained.

Children want and need their parents’ full & undivided attention. I feel so sad for this kid.

But honestly, does this article describe you? I know it does me. I have the urge to check email and twitter at every stop light. I get bored and need some input during that “down time.”

How do you manage your attention? Do you ever give the most precious gift – your full and undivided attention to something or someone? Care to share?

When I teach my students social media, am I contributing to creating an addiction?  Do I also have the responsibility to teach them how to manage their attention? How do I do that? How do you do that?

[image credit: Wired Man, by flickr user Mike Licht,]

[Update, 12:33 pm: Should have mentioned that This NYT article was referred to in a Zencast podcast, podcast #170 on Learning to Listen deeply. Also on iTunes.]

CBS video: the Millenials are coming

CBS published this 12 min. segment on the Millenial generation. I hope my students will watch it and post comments with their reactions to the video. What do you think? Is this an accurate description of your generation? How did you feel when watching the video?

(hat tip to whoever posted this on twitter, unfortunately, I can’t remember who it was) Edit: I found it! It was a blog post from Joseph Jaffe)

Update: I’m embedding the video and asking com. theory students to view it. This segment is ripe for ideological criticism.