Multitasking: Opportunity or Weakness?

Issue 1808

2 August 2018

A significant feature of contemporary culture is the wealth of opportunity available to us, not least due to the increasing speed and power of technology. A term often used in this sphere is multitasking, which symbolically expresses both a mentality and an ideal: the possibility of carrying out concurrently an ever greater number of tasks, commitments and relationships. This is a wonderful possibility that was unthinkable until a few decades ago.

The multiple opportunities of multitasking

Examples to illustrate multitasking abound, to the extent that it is difficult to specify them in all possible aspects because they have become part of our everyday life. From the comfort of our own homes, we can perform a multiplicity of operations simultaneously; purchases of all types while managing work schedules and carrying out research; reading for pleasure while receiving news in real time; maintaining contact with friends; posting announcements and writing messages; attending lessons and even participating in conferences. All of this was unthinkable before the advent of the internet.

Let us consider the convenience and inexpensiveness of platforms like WhatsApp, Facetime, Viber and other messaging applications. They let us stay in touch with family and friends and maintain relationships in ways that were not previously possible, not to mention the potential to offer and receive precious help from apparent strangers.[1] Another important aspect is the extraordinary wealth of information that can be accessed when performing a search of any kind. The data made available to us by search engines could not be physically viewed with traditional tools.

With a smartphone we can listen to music, take photographs, shoot videos and exchange messages with people all over the world. Complex operations can be carried out and accessed almost instantaneously; for example, financial transactions, traffic information, weather forecasts, location of a restaurant, a bookstore, a cinema.[2] And last but not least, we can go on a virtual journey through time to visit an ancient city that has been reconstructed to perfection in all its details.

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