A Simple Kind of Life

Update: The link to the article now contains the full article.

I wrote a while back that I have been having trouble remembering things I’ve recently read, be they books, essays, etc. My (half) joking explanation was, “My brain is full,” and I (half) convinced myself that I needed some output from my noggin if I wanted room for further input. The truth, though, was explained to me by Walter Kirn in last month’s Atlantic: multitasking is dumbing me down. Kirn’s piece is one of the best I’ve read all year, and it’s hilarious. Coincidentally, I read it during a trip where I challenged myself to travel more gadget-free than I had in a long time.

I went to Thailand stripped of my electronic existence nearly completely. No laptop (!!), no camera, just an iPod, the Blackberry (it was my phone), clothes, three magazines (2 New Yorkers, including a double issue, and The Atlantic) and a book (The Alchemy of Desire). If even that strikes you as somewhat unrealistic, it was — the trip was only 4 days and I knew I wouldn’t come close to reading the book — but I held out hope.

There were moments of computer withdrawal, and sadly, I did check email on the Blackberry twice, but going laptopless counts as a small victory, though it’s not sexy.  I really could have done without the iPod fairly easily as well.

Maybe one day I’ll get to where Walter Kirn is. Hopefully I won’t have to move to Montana, or have kidney stones.  Whatever it takes, just to be able to remember what I read.



  1. What can I say, If you only listened and stopped reading while you are eating, growing up, you would have surely escaped the dumbing down of multitasking!!


  2. Great article — and the part about the low point in his career being when his boss was half-listening to some big proposal while reading his blackberry was the best. Who doesn’t hate that? And yet who hasn’t sort of done the same to someone else… Thanks for making it available to us non-AMs.


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