Saturday, April 29, 2006

21st century mind

I am something of a news junky. The CNN website is my homepage. When I turn on the TV, MSNBC will most often be the first station that pops up. I can't stand missing the local news broadcasts at both 6 and 10, for fear I might miss something. ESPN is a staple of my information diet. I'm ashamed to admit that I don't read the newspaper on a regular basis. But that is because I spend so much time on the internet, gleaning those nuggets of info that keep feeding my news jones. Having said all that, I have to admit to a problem that I hope I am not the only one to have.

While watching the news on whatever station I have on at the time, I always become totally distracted by that newsy crawl line at the bottom of the picture. All the stations have them. They are the torment of my life. I simply cannot direct my attention to those updates without losing the line of thought being spoken by the talking head on the tube. I have to give my total attention to one or the other. I am genetically incapable of hearing and reading at the same time, and understanding both. I usually end up totally confused and absolutely in the dark about what is going on in the world. I am a failure at the twenty first century skill of multitasking.

That it is possible to hear, watch, read, and understand all the info being thrown at a person at one time has been proven in my own household. My son, Jonathan, during all his years in school, would come home, turn on the tv, and proceed to do all his homework assignments while sitting in front of that tv. His powers of concentration are legendary. I could not protest his methods of study since his results were exemplary. He was, after all, the valedictorian of his high school class.
It just points out the differences between his generation and mine. All his life he has been bombarded with a sensory overload of noise and information and has trained himself to separate the various streams that flow by him and filter out the unnecessary and concentrate on the few drops that nourish his brain. I, on the other hand, find myself drowning in that same stream of information, gasping for breath and grabbing desperatly to any floating detritus that happens by. I emerge from the stream soaked and sodden and disoriented, while he bobs happily to the surface and effortlessly wades to the shore refreshed by the dip in the waters of knowledge. His is a 21st century mind, while mine is mired in the single shot 50's of the last century.

I can only keep trying to separate the various lines of info that came towards me, hopeless in the realization that that is the best my feeble powers of concentration will allow. Either that or stop watching the television version of news and return to the old time renditon of news deliverance--the printed page of newsprint. I feel so old and inadequate.

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