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Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Amanda Lamb: A culture of distraction

Posted February 6, 2011 8:35 p.m. EST

"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.