It’s also rumored that his breakup with Erykah inspired him to record Outkast’s smash record “Ms.
The reason why that’s the case is that when you practice distraction (which is what multi-tasking really is – paying attention to something that distracted you from what you were originally paying attention to), you’re training your brain. Why do most all of us seem to fall prey to these devices even as we know they’re causing a real problem for us? The first is that we’re perfectly mal-adapted, biologically speaking, to these devices. We’re radically over-developing the parts of quick thinking, distractable brain and letting the long-form-thinking, creative, contemplative, solitude-seeking, thought-consolidating pieces of our brain atrophy by not using them. Part II – What are we losing as a result of our short attention span and easy distractability? You’re eating lunch with a friend and they excuse themselves to the restroom. Now, you pull our your phone because being unstimulated makes you feel anxious. We didn’t think gap time and “boredom” were valuable.
You’re training your brain to pay attention to distracting things. When our ancestors, the Geico guys, were sitting out on the savanna and the tree next to them rustled. My favorite summary line on this whole topic comes from Sherry Turkle, an MIT professor who studies technology and society. Digital connections offer the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship. Now that we’re losing it, we get a sense of just how valuable it was. Besides taking a break from distraction, another step is to ACTIVELY TRAIN your long-form attention and mindfullness. Whatever form it takes, make it a DAILY practice of slowing down. Perhaps the most interesting or provocative approach to solving it, harkens back to that line at the end of the Microsoft commercial – ‘we need a phone to save us from our phones’. There is a small academic movement called Slow Tech.
To illustrate, let me ask you if you know what the most profitable part of a casino gaming floor is? Slot machines are extremely powerful earners because they employ a principle called “random payout”. Maybe it was your best round of golf, maybe it was solving a tricky computer science problem. It’s a feeling of peek performance, peek creativity, peek aliveness. In the workout analogy, we don’t want to stop working out our upper body, we want to start working out our legs. One step, I think, is to take a weekly holiday from your devices. And, as a result, its whole focus has been on creating productivity, efficiency and speed. I believe that the biggest gift we can impart on our kids is the ability to be mindful – to pay attention to the things and to the people that are actually around them.
Turns out if you pull a handle and it pays out predictably, you very quickly figure it out and stop pulling. The amazing part to me is that we all look around at each other and see ourselves, as adults, failing and then we give these devices to kids and expect them to do better. In fact, as parents of teenagers know, they fare far worse… Whatever it was, likely, you were LOST IN THE MOMENT, completely absorbed in what you were doing. Where’s the #1 reported place where people get insight? But, with smartphones, we aren’t looking at a work device, we’re looking at a lifestyle device. But, all the hardware, all the software, all the UI it has, carries with it 50 years of underyling assumptions – that the purpose of it’s existence is to make us more productive and more efficient. I’d guess that it’s going to be more fast paced than ever. Now imagine your own child in stark contrast to that culture of distraction. In 10 years, that’s going to feel VERY VERY different than the norm.
The Effect: Common went from this: To This: His collaboration with Erykah Badu on “Love Of My Life (Ode To Hip-Hop)” earned him his very first Grammy.