Multitasking: Good or bad?

by Aruna Singh

Nicholas Carr's argument claims that the brain's neuroplasticity is not without its dark side. What do you think?

If you don't know what neuroplasticity is, I'd like to explain it to you in the most simple terms possible: The word neuroplasticity means that your brain has what seems to be an endless capacity to makes connections and change behavior in response to new information, new stimuli, development, damage and dysfunction. Basically, our brains can adapt to rapid change and reorganization, whether you believe or not.,

Now that we got that out of the way, lets hone in on Nicholas Carr's argument on the subject. He believed that multitasking is training our mind to pay attention to malarkey while cost us the benefits of deep processing. In other words, we aren't analyzing and retaining information anymore even though we have access to a lot more information. Instead, we are wasting time blindly staring at the information and skimming it, maybe even memorizing it, but we aren't processing it on a deeper level.

What do I think? I think Carr has a major point. I think that the internet has made the overwhelming idea of multitasking much more doable for many, however people do not realize how much time is being wasted. Even the term multitasking basically gives it away. Multitasking means that you are basically focusing on many things instead of one. And lets be honest here, people only have a limited amount of focus, therefore, if you spread your limited focus amongst many tasks, you will have to "divide your attention."

This week, we had to test our focus with these multitasking interactive tests available at this link:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/06/07/tech...

To my own surprise, here are my results --

In measuring my "distractibility", in other words, my ability to ignore distractions when performing a task, I got the higher score possible in both sections, 100% on my first try. This means that I was able to keep all the objects in short-term memory during the test. According to the graphs that the site made available, I scored above both the averages of high multitaskers and low multitaskers, so I am not sure what my exact title would be.

When I completed the "Juggle test" I was surprised at the results. Apparently, I am quite slow, which is contrary to what I thought about my own productivity. The test defined me as a heavy multitasker and claimed that I am defined as that because I am slow to switch between tasks. I am also considered slower to complete tasks even when they are the same. Basically, my cost in switching tasks is wasted time, much as Nicholas Carr griped about.

So what is my final statement about multitasking? It seems like focusing on one task will actually be more beneficial to my time constraints. However, when you have a bad habit, it is hard to get rid of.