Driving while distracted is a big topic these days, as well it should be. Anyone who’s been driving down the highway at sixty-plus miles per hour and glanced over to see the driver of the car in the next lane texting with one hand and sipping a coffee with the other one knows the sheer terror that distracted driving can invoke. It is a huge problem that has caused far too many accidents, and I believe it continues because so many people pride themselves on their ability to multi-task safely and efficiently no matter what they happen to be doing. And they don’t find out until it’s too late that they are wrong.
I’m happy to say that I never text while driving, but please know that by saying that I’m not trying to claim a high moral ground. It’s easy for me to resist the temptation to “just glance at” my phone when I hear the familiar ding of a text because I know for a fact that I can’t multi-task. And I’m not just talking about while I’m driving, either. I can’t multi-task at anything, ever.
Sadly, these days the inability to multi-task is fast becoming, if not something to be ashamed of, at least something that makes it hard to cope with the normal fast pace of life. My computer is equipped with the ability to send and receive text messages, which means that when I’m trying to write a blog post I am often interrupted with a text notification, usually from someone who wants an answer to his or her question this very second. Since I tend to require complete concentration when I’m writing (I turn off the TV, put my cell phone in another room, and wake the dog if she’s snoring), the interruptions are a problem for me. I lose my train of thought, and what could have been a stunningly brilliant blog post is lost forever. Which explains why my blog has yet to win the Nobel Prize for literature, I’m sure.
If I’m trying to cook a meal and someone insists on talking to me, I often forget an ingredient or burn one of the courses. (Why all those people on HGTV want an open floor plan so they can “be a part of the conversation” while they are cooking is beyond me.) When I worked in an office, I had notes for everything I did, because the constant interruptions meant I was also constantly forgetting where I had stored my information for a donor report or what the latest procedures for a job applicant happened to be. I even had a note on how to properly transfer a phone call, and consulted it often.
I sometimes think I might have been a happier person if I had been born before the advent of all this technology, when people had the time to focus on the project at hand without being besieged by constant and conflicting demands on our attention. I would certainly be more self-confident if I didn’t find myself constantly apologizing for not being able to pay attention to several, or even two, things at once. But life is what it is, so I just muddle along and trust those who know me best to understand my limitations.
At least I know that I can’t text and drive at the same time. That should count for something, I think.