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At the pagan meetup earlier, something cool happened. I was having a conversation with one lady, and listening to someone else's conversation. I don't remember the word Lugh mentioned that I used1, but at one point I explained something to the lady using one of the Asatru words that Lugh had mentioned in his conversation, and an entirely different woman - Sorcha - looked startled when I said that, and said a minute later that she was impressed that I could have a conversation with one person and listen in on another conversation at the same time and understand it. :-)

But of course, she doesn't know that to me, multi-tasking is second nature; I am, after all, a multiple mind, so my brain is accustomed to multi-tasking. My friend Brooke would disagree, but only because she doesn't understand something very important. Brooke would say I don't multi-task well because I keep needing her to repeat things she's said. But there's a reason for that. When I'm over at Brooke's, I am always on my laptop. When I'm on my laptop, I always have the following things open:
1. Two browsers (Opera and Firefox) Each browser has at least 5 or 6 tabs open. (Gmail, LJ friendspage, some games, Facebook, and Twitter among others, not just for [personal profile] fayanora but also for [personal profile] alex_antonin)
2. My instant messaging client, Trillian, which usually has 2 or 3 conversations going on at once.
3. Sometimes Semagic, my LJ/DW client, is up.

Now that may not sound like a lot, but my brain is always actively thinking about most of those tabs at the same time, thinking about things that my friendslist reading conjures up, sometimes also thinking about LJ/DW entries to write, and since the TV is always on at Brooke's place, add "thinking about ideas the TV conjures up." So already, my brain is thinking about a dozen or two things at once, just from the computer and the TV. The computer alone puts me near the limit of my multi-tasking most days. Add the TV, and its at its limit so much that it has to actively ignore the TV and/or the computer to be able to listen when Brooke starts talking. And since she never gives me any warning of when she's about to start talking to me, and since my poor maxed-out brain usually takes anywhere from 5 seconds to a minute to even register the additional input of Brooke's voice before it can start attempting to turn her words into meaning, I've already missed half of what she's said by the time I realize she's talking to me. And because I have to actively ignore one of the other 2 major stimulus-causing things in the room to listen to her, I have to turn my head toward her to listen to her.

But I know from experience that if there is no TV on, I can actually actively listen to someone talking, fully understand what they said, and respond appropriately without turning my head. I know because I did it with Lilla all the time, when she'd come into my room while I was on the computer. I had no TV back then, so my brain was easily able to add "conversation with Lilla" to the list of the couple dozen things I can think about simultaneously.

Also, I used my multi-tasking abilities back when I was taking customer service calls for Sprint years ago. I could look through the bill, take notes, actively listen, and have an active conversation with the customer all at the same time. And there were other tasks/things to think about related to the job that would crop up now and then. I frequently pushed the limits of my multi-tasking at that job, sometimes thinking about 30 different things at the same time. Of course, I tried not to go *that* high up on simultaneous thought streams, because when I did, I had a tendency for it to all come crashing down, like computer programs will crash when too much RAM is being used.

Oh, and I do the same multi-tasking on any computer as I do on my laptop while at Brooke's, except at home I usually leave Trillian off. I leave it off not because *I* can't handle it, but because my computer has issues with both Trillian and one of my games being up at the same time. And at home, I often add "cooking" to the things I think about at the same time. Physically, cooking gets me away from the computer, but even cooking tasks with lots of steps and things to pay attention to have me mentally still at my computer and other places.

So yeah. If Sorcha thought understanding a conversation I was listening to while talking to someone else entirely was impressive, she ain't seen nothing yet. :-)

I've even tested my multi-tasking at the pagan meetups when 10 or more people show up, listening to four or five conversations at once, AKA "keeping track of the words and body language of up to 10 people at a time." I admit, 5 convos at once is a bit difficult for me, when you add the fact that each conversation always spawns at least one or two new streams of thought in my mind in response to the content. So I usually try to stick to listening to two or three conversations at once. Any more than that, and I start getting a headache. Because "four conversations at once" + "at least 4 or 8 tangential thought streams" = "between 8 and 12 thought-streams at once". And such conversations rarely limit themselves to spawning just one or two tangential thought-streams. So there are times when I'm listening to 5 convos at once and doing quite well, when suddenly a flood of tangential thoughts are sparked and I come crashing down to being able to track just one conversation at a time while the other streams either branch off, store themselves in memory, or peter out.

Come to think of it, that level of multi-tasking is something I've had all my life. My self-imposed exile into fantasy was not easy; I had to keep every available thought-stream occupied, because even one free space left idle could go to thoughts and feelings I didn't want to pay attention to. Oh, and it also meant that I was ALWAYS in my fantasy world, ALWAYS filtering everything that happened to me through my fantasy world, but was able to appear somewhat normal at times if I was required to sacrifice one or more of the streams towards thinking about things in the mundane world, like school work. But even while doing school work, there were things in my fantasy world still going on in the background.

1 = It was some Norse word. Lugh is an Asatruar (but ye gods, he detests, loathes, and hates the Neo-Nazi and skinhead element that call themselves Asatruars.)

Crossposted from http://fayanora.dreamwidth.org

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( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
natf
Jan. 23rd, 2012 09:26 pm (UTC)
Yeah, sometimes I am able to multi-task more than other people can fathom but at other times it is all I can do to concentrate on one thing with the overwhelm from tinnitus and other background noises, pain and so on. At those times all I can do is sleep.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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