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Amanda Lamb: A culture of distraction

Posted February 6, 2011

"I'm great at keeping secrets," my youngest says. "You know why? Because I forget everything!"

"Amen, sister," I reply. I know how she feels. The older I get, the more I forget. I forget where I put my car keys. I forget to pay the monthly dance fee for my girls. I forget if I canceled a dentist appointment, or if I made a new one. I forget if I wrote someone a thank you note, or ordered new ink for my printer. I forget someone's name when I see them in public instead of on Facebook.

It would easy, and predictable to connect this forgetfulness to age, or simply to being a distracted working mother, but I think it has more to do with our cultural phenomenon of distractedness.

The introduction of BlackBerries and other smart phones allows us to do a million things at a time. They give us a false sense of being able to be effective and productive at warp speed. The problem is that most of us, me included, aren't very good at doing a million things at one time. Ultimately, things slip through the cracks.

I've taken to e-mailing myself about important things I need to remember-"make hair appointment," "pay dance," even things as mundane as "get milk." I keep the e-mails on my BlackBerry to remind me, plus they are in my Outlook inbox as a backup in case I accidentally delete them from my phone. The funny thing is that I still forget to do things even with these reminders. The truth is that like computers with a limited amount of memory, our brains run out of memory to and we need external hard drives to store everything.

"So do you have any good secrets right now you want to share with me?" I ask my little one.

"Nope, can't remember any. But even if I did, Mommy, I couldn't tell you. That's why they're called secrets."

Amanda Lamb is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several book including two on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.
 

4 Comments

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  • lokayatra Feb 7, 2011

    In the garb of technology and progress, we are becoming mentally and physically lethargic. The less we exercise the brain, the duller it gets. It is as simple as that . We buy things based on peer pressure and to be modern, not due to our needs. Then we can talk about our latest gadget and show off.

  • JAT Feb 7, 2011

    We are just inundated with stuff we don't need to know but feel that we have to try to remember. Do we need to know about Charlie Sheen's latest mishaps or that LiLo "borrowed" a necklace? Those are valuable brain cells that could be used for remembering to fill the car up with gas on the way home. I say we go back to 3 channels of TV, no computers, no BB's, writing real letters using a postage stamp. We couldn't be worse off than we are now!

  • grannybam07 Feb 7, 2011

    Simplify - that's the key for all of us. It would improve so many aspects of our life but the question is 'How?' What do we eliminate? Is everything we do essential? If anyone has the answer to these questions, PLEASE share!!!!!

  • blahblahblah Feb 7, 2011

    My husband says I am anti-technology. I have a basic cell phone, and even that I don't want. I leave post-it notes on my dashboard to remind me to pick up milk, to make a phone call on the way home, to make an appointment, etc. I leave myself voice messages on my work phone to remind me of something that needs to be done during the next work day, work related or personal business. I use an old fashion pocket calendar to record appointments. Makes me crazy when I ask a friend to lunch and she has to whip out her Blackberry to consult her life schedule. If today you don't know if you are free for lunch tomorrow, then you have way too much going on in your life. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest!