Provided by Troy Headrick from Thinker Boy: Blog & Art
*Troy Headrick is a thinker, writer, artist, educator, and adventurer who has lived in five countries. He writes on a wide variety of subjects and has had work published in many print and online magazines, journals, newspapers, and blogs. His autobiographical blog can be found at https://troyheadrick-thinkerboy.com/. He is working on several book projects. *
I always arrive at work at 7:50 a.m. That’s ten minutes before I have to officially unlock the writing center door—the one I manage—turn on the lights, and open up for business.
This morning, at approximately 7:55, I made a quick trip to the men’s restroom. Actually, I’m pretty lucky in that it’s located just a few feet away from our center. (There’s a lot to be said for convenience.) Anyway, when I stepped into the place, there was a man just finishing up his business at one of the urinals. As soon as he zipped up and turned toward me, I noticed that he had a toothbrush sticking out of his mouth. Seeing this prompted me to ask, “Multitasking are you?” He found my question humorous. I know this because he began to smile when I put it to him. He then walked to the sink, spit a wad of froth from his mouth, and thoroughly washed his hands, face, and brush.
This rather inconsequential encounter in the john got me thinking about how busy our lives are. It was both a little humorous and a little sad that this fellow couldn’t focus on either peeing or brushing and found himself having to do them simultaneously. I hope it doesn’t come to the point that we have to carry around little pocket-sized planners to schedule our bowel movements.
Of course, I’m being facetious but not entirely. Multitasking is all the vogue and those who are good multitaskers are viewed as having a skill that makes them more attractive on the job market. We have to be careful, though, not to confuse being a good worker with being a good (and happy) human being. A person may become more productive but also feel that such a “gain” comes with a loss. To multitask is to fragment. A person who is required to do many things at once cannot give full concentration to any one of those things. Multitasking leads to a dilution of one’s human power. Contrary to popular wisdom, the world does not need more multitaskers; it needs more people who are able to focus and concentrate on doing one thing exceptionally well. We do not need more hacks and amateurs. We need more masters. Those who see multitasking as a virtue are really making the argument that quantity of work trumps quality of work.
Multitasking is gaining value as a job skill because capitalist countries are hoping to make human beings more machine-like as a way of boosting productivity. (After all, we won’t have to replace human workers with robots if we can turn humans into robots.)
What capitalists don’t realize though is that a “jack of all trades” is a “master of none.” Plus, mental health suffers when human beings are forced to be something other than human beings.
Bottom line: We must not allow ourselves to be dehumanized just because dehumanization is profitable.