Here are two passages, along with an observation from class (the real point of this post, if there is one):
Efficiency, convenience, and mobility.
For proof that these bundled minor virtues don’t amount to freedom but are, instead, a formula for a period of mounting frenzy climaxing with a lapse into fatigue, consider that “Where do you want to go today?” was really manipulative advice, not an open question. “Go somewhere now,” it strongly recommended, then go somewhere else tomorrow, but always go, go, go—and with our help. But did any rebel reply, “Nowhere. I like it fine right here”? Did anyone boldly ask, “What business is it of yours?” Was anyone brave enough to say, “Frankly, I want to go back to bed”?
Comment: That person? That person saying "I want to go back to bed"? That was me, but just under my breath.
Consider a recent experiment at UCLA, where researchers asked a group of 20-somethings to sort index cards in two trials, once in silence and once while simultaneously listening for specific tones in a series of randomly presented sounds. The subjects’ brains coped with the additional task by shifting responsibility from the hippocampus—which stores and recalls information—to the striatum, which takes care of rote, repetitive activities. Thanks to this switch, the subjects managed to sort the cards just as well with the musical distraction—but they had a much harder time remembering what, exactly, they’d been sorting once the experiment was over.
Comment: Walter, Walter, Walter. Can you not understand that sometimes the sorting/filing/whatever boringly repetitive tasks are so boring that we don't especially want to remember what we're doing? Or that having a source of sound--not random tones but music--is keeping us from the mental sounds that say "You should have had this done LAST WEEK!"?
So, my take on multitasking? It can be good, and it can be bad. It can also be annoying.
I have a student who diligently takes notes if I'm talking about Certified Important Material. She knows it's important if I'm gesturing in front of a PowerPoint slide or writing on the board or writing on something that's projected on a screen. If her classmates are talking, though, even if they're saying good things, she whips out a planner and gets to work on it. I have no idea about the complexities of a 20-year-old's life these days; maybe she's more overscheduled than Donald Trump. My guess? There's nothing that couldn't wait until class is over. She continues this even when I sum up and expand on what the class is saying (you teachers know the technique) because, although she thinks she's multitasking, she's actually lost the entire thread of what we're talking about. She thinks she's listening and sorting index cards, so to speak, but she's neither listening nor sorting particularly well.
And that, in a nutshell, is your brain on multitasking.