In this interesting Wired interview, author Maggie Jackson scares those of us who operate in an interruption-rich environment with her alarming theory of how it’s destroying our minds.
Jackson: Studies show that information workers now switch tasks an average of every three minutes throughout the day. Of course that’s what we have to do to live in this complicated world.
Wired.com: How do these interruptions affect us?
Jackson: This degree of interruption is correlated with stress and frustration and lowered creativity. That makes sense. When you’re scattered and diffuse, you’re less creative. When your times of reflection are always punctured, it’s hard to go deeply into problem-solving, into relating, into thinking.
And then she horrifies us with her warnings of an imminent Dark Age.
Wired.com: The subtitle of your book predicts a “coming dark age.” Do you really believe this?
Jackson: Dark ages are times of forgetting, when the advancements of the past are underutilized. If we forget how to use our powers of deep focus, we’ll depend more on black-and-white thinking, on surface ideas, on surface relationships. That breeds a tremendous potential for tyranny and misunderstanding. The possibility of an attention-deficient future society is very sobering.
If I’m already destroying my mind due to lack of sleep AND frequent interruptions, I may as well just take up pot smoking and heavy drinking and enjoy it a little, eh?