I first wondered whether the person on the other end knew that Pepita’s attention had wandered.  I then wondered whether Pepita had been listening or talking as she executed that literate, perfectly-punctuated text.  Proficient multi-taskers easily talk and text at the same time. I’m a little embarrassed to say I’m one of them – which is probably why I noticed.  Which is also probably what drew me to Pepita in the first place. All gerbil minds work alike.

I’m not bragging about this ability.  It doesn’t feel good to scatter one’s brain. It’s not always fun being on the other end when someone else is distracted. (We all know what it “sounds” like when a listener isn’t really listening.)  I’m also well aware that several studies suggest that multitasking is not efficient. Still, at times I can’t help myself.

Clearly, I’m not alone. Why do we do it? I think the answer is, because we can.

I’m sad about this, but there’s no turning back. Multi-stimulation is second nature to my grandsons’ generation. Their brains are already different. Technology shapes us (and vice versa). And some social scientists, like Kathy Davidson at Duke University, author of Now You See It tell us to “relax” and not panic about our divided attention.  She thinks digital natives will need those brains our “networked” future.

I suspect that the rest of us 20th-century-brained types might someday turn to “focus coaches or enroll in attention-management classes in order to cope with the sirens of a constantly distracting world.  In the meantime…

Let this moment inspire me to be totally present during my next conversation – no texting, reading, or taking my turn on Words With Friends.

Let me remind myself that as rushed and too-much-with-the-world as I might feel on some days, I always have a choice: to engage fully or to be half-there.

And if I can’t manage to keep all that in mind, let me promise to seek help!

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