Opinion Columns & Blogs

Multitasking has led to lack of focus syndrome

I’m all for multitasking but we may have reached a point where multitasking has resulted in no tasking. Don’t ask me how I know this. I couldn’t stay focused long enough to do any research, but I do watch people drive.

The problem appears to be we’ve lost the ability to totally focus on one thing at a time. A congressional address, a sermon, NASCAR and baseball games are all victims of this lack of ability to pay attention to any one thing for any amount of time. We see it with Congress where many members are caught sleeping through “important” legislation (often on national television), when important business is being discussed by bloviating blowhards as our out-in-their seats leaders are busy drooling, head-bobbing and probably passing gas in plush leather chairs paid for by us.

We see it in churches where, even though a particular message may be designed to keep them from an eternity in the pit — there they sit — eyes glazed, heads on chests and sometimes even falling into the lap of the nearest brother, sister, or heaven forbid, a total stranger. Surely no one would allow a flatulent moment to occur in church. If it weren’t for an occasional, “Let’s all stand and sing” moment, many preachers would no doubt be staring at a room full of backs and bald heads. Plus, the art of sleeping in church, while appearing awake, is a gift, if you will, that few of us possess.

We all know that sleeping in church is where a well- trained person, out on their feet, and with eyes in slit mode, can appear totally focused and alert until a change in ministerial cadence or a sneeze wakes them up. It’s a beautiful thing to watch if you can stay awake long enough. Why, we may even see an occasional sleeper at an extended funeral service where the snores of those paying their respects can be heard over the accolades coming from the pulpit. This usually ends with an elbow insertion into a rib by someone who has managed to pay attention to one thing. But I digress.

At baseball games and NASCAR events where objects are moving at tremendous speeds they’re still not fast enough to keep anyone’s attention (beer could be the culprit here). I once slept through 40 laps of a Dale Earnhardt race at Atlanta Motor Speedway and to this day, I cannot remember who won.

Has our ability to concentrate slipped away? Is it our medication, boredom, or that other thing older people don’t want to hear about? And just what does it take for us to pay attention to one thing at a time? What is it that focuses the mind like no other?

Remember when Adam was busy naming the animals and Eve showed up? They had lunch, probably an apple, and he immediately became focused on his wardrobe or lack thereof.

That’s what I’m talking about.

There are other things that have the ability to get our undivided attention besides Eve and the zoo, however. A cracked heel will get your attention right away. As soon as that foot hits the floor your mind is totally focused and will stay that way until a remedy is found. A sand spur between the toes will do the same in between screams of agony. If you have a cracked heel or sand spur between the toes you are, in a way, multitasking, but one thing you’re probably not doing is walking.

The dog barking during nap time is an attention getter for sure. Size doesn’t matter here, small dog, big dog, all it takes is a dog bark and your attention is totally focused. Just when you’re about to get into that all important REM sleep, here comes the yip, yap or howl and your mind is like a laser focused on getting a gun (just kidding here).

I suppose the thing that will draw one’s mind to a certain place more than any other would be the hemorrhoid. If the hemorrhoid had been introduced in the Garden of Eden, we would still be wearing leaves and you would never hear the phrase, “Mommy, can we go see the elephant, please, please?”

Sonny Harmon is a professor emeritus at Georgia Military College. Visit his blog at http://sharmon09.blogspot.com.