I like to make a habit of stretching my thinking a bit at times. It’s helpful, for market research and other purposes, to know where the human race is headed—or to at least have a good working theory about where things are going.
Given that the human attention span is getting shorter and shorter as the number of shiny objects increases, I’ve noticed that our capacity for short-term memory seems to be decreasing as well. It’s not that our brains are losing their ability to remember (far from it). What’s happening is that we’re coming to realize that a lot of the things we used to consider important aren’t worth remembering.
I’m also noticing that the more complex projects I take on, the more I start to see different patterns that appear in different areas. This is good and bad at the same time. On the one hand, it helps me to find creative solutions to different problems. On the other hand, it creates confusion and makes it easy to forget the details.
If you follow where I’m going here, it’s easy to predict a point in the future where all memory of the past will disappear. Instead of remembering, we will develop hyper-efficient systems for recording data and presenting the important parts when we need to see them. At the same time, we’ll reach a point where we learn how to pay attention to the right things in the present, and by extension, we will have no further use for the past.
Perhaps multitasking is not a problem, but a practice we’ve adopted because we know, at a deep level, that we will need to master the skill of shifting rapidly between different kinds of thinking in the world where we will soon be living.
What do you think will happen when time begins to disappear from our language? We’ll need a whole new lexicon, actually. Maybe we should get to work on inventing it and using it now.