What Is The Efficient Technology Driven Multitasker Of Today Really Accomplishing?

by Faith & Life, Self-Knowledge

The “Daily Grovo” offers an interesting video dealing with our fascination with multitasking and efficiency. It’s an exaggerated representation that draws our attention to some of the same thoughts and habits that we display in our daily use of technology.

A Deeper Look

Take a moment to imagine a young boy that comes upon a deep and empty well. He takes a moment to peer down, but isn’t able to see the bottom. Something inside him tells him that he needs to fill it. He’s not sure why, but he has the sensation that this is important. So, he finds a bag of rice and takes a few grains and tosses them into the well. He does so for a good while until he decides to examine the process that he is using. To his surprise, the bottom remains out of sight, as if he hadn’t done anything at all! In a fit of anxiety, he doubles his efforts. “Surely if I just work harder,” he exclaims. He then triples his efforts, but to no avail. The same scene repeats itself time and time again…

The moral of the story is that we all find a desire deep inside of us, a desire for something great, for something beautiful and fulfilling. Unfortunately, we try to fill that desire with grains of rice. We think that if we can just get one more task finished, we’ll find that peace and be able to rest for a while. We think if we could just get that raise, then we wouldn’t have to worry about the budget anymore. We think if we could just check that last email, then we could be sure that we aren’t missing anything and we have got our relationships under control.

These efforts aren’t bad in themselves. They are simply poorly founded. We try to establish things on the basis of our own efforts, on our own control. However, it doesn’t work like that. The answer isn’t more control, more connection, more tabs. The answer lies in making choices that embrace quality over quantity, truth over superficiality, better time over more time, and generosity above efficiency.

Only authentic relationships, authentic friendships based on service and love, can fill that desire deep within us. We were made for communion, above all communion with Christ, and nothing else, no matter how much of it and how quickly we obtain it, can fill that desire. 

Questions for Dialogue 

I think the video makes a valid critique of our use of technology and would be both relevant and appealing to people of all ages. Perhaps you could ask a few questions like the following: How do you try and fill the well with grains of rice? Do you think that your work or efficiency alone will really make you happy? How do your habits with technology affect you on a daily basis? What have you sacrificed in the name of efficiency and multi-tasking? How can you better respond to that desire for communion and fulfillment?

A few words from Benedict XVI

Also, here are a few words that I would suggest reading and meditating upon from a speech by Benedict XVI: 

“The accessibility of mobile telephones and computers, combined with the global reach and penetration of the internet, has opened up a range of means of communication that permit the almost instantaneous communication of words and images across enormous distances and to some of the most isolated corners of the world; something that would have been unthinkable for previous generations. Young people, in particular, have grasped the enormous capacity of the new media to foster connectedness, communication and understanding between individuals and communities, and they are turning to them as means of communicating with existing friends, of meeting new friends, of forming communities and networks, of seeking information and news, and of sharing their ideas and opinions.

While the speed with which the new technologies have evolved in terms of their efficiency and reliability is rightly a source of wonder, their popularity with users should not surprise us, as they respond to a fundamental desire of people to communicate and to relate to each other. This desire for communication and friendship is rooted in our very nature as human beings and cannot be adequately understood as a response to technical innovations…

If [however] the desire for virtual connectedness becomes obsessive, it may in fact function to isolate individuals from real social interaction while also disrupting the patterns of rest, silence and reflection that are necessary for healthy human development.

The concept of friendship has enjoyed a renewed prominence in the vocabulary of the new digital social networks that have emerged in the last few years. The concept is one of the noblest achievements of human culture. It is in and through our friendships that we grow and develop as humans. For this reason, true friendship has always been seen as one of the greatest goods any human person can experience. We should be careful, therefore, never to trivialize the concept or the experience of friendship. It would be sad if our desire to sustain and develop on-line friendships were to be at the cost of our availability to engage with our families, our neighbors and those we meet in the daily reality of our places of work, education and recreation. If the desire for virtual connectedness becomes obsessive, it may in fact function to isolate individuals from real social interaction while also disrupting the patterns of rest, silence and reflection that are necessary for healthy human development.”


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