Tweeting vs. concentrating

Concentrate on one thing at a time.


I have an account on Twitter, where I post a few updates each week. For the last year or so, I’ve been following students who follow me. Recently many of them have been tweeting dozens of times every day, and some are really prolific. Their messages are about many topics, including job hunting, food, entertainment, and daily life. A few messages are very thoughtful, but many are simple emotional responses to the ups and downs of life.

I learn a lot by reading students’ messages, and I really appreciate their frankness, but sometimes I worry about how they spend their time. The other day I asked my seminar students how they can concentrate on anything when they tweet so much. Well, it turns out that they can’t.

Many students have to struggle to keep up with academic work. They do enough to survive, but not much more than absolutely necessary, and they seem to spend a lot of time multitasking. When they get bored or frustrated or lonely, or when they want to share something with their friends, they tweet.

Some people say that Twitter, and social networking in general, is a revolutionary means of communication, but sometimes I think it’s just another distraction in a long tradition of time killers. College students have always found ways of avoiding hard academic work, and Twitter works very well for that purpose.

There’s no magic formula to get students to concentrate, but single-tasking may help. Multitasking doesn’t work very well. I think students can be more productive and satisfied with their lives by concentrating on one thing at a time.

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