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Tech Gadgets and "Flow"
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Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is a book that discusses how enjoyable it is to lose oneself in one's work. Deeply involved in an engrossing task, using one's skill set to the max, time flies and hours pass, all while one is unaware of anything but the job at hand.

The experience of "flow" is a deeply satisfying one, not only at work but also at play. I can remember in high school sitting in study hall reading a wonderful book, totally deaf to the bell that rang to go to the next class, unaware that someone had sat down in the seat next to me, blind to the person waving from the hallway (people thought I was stuck up). I'd be on detention for missing the next class--and I enjoyed detention, because I could read!

Sometimes while driving, I start out on a familiar road--say, for instance, the one I take to go to work--and then, totally immersed in my own thoughts or in conversation with the person in the passenger seat, continue in the wrong direction (towards work) instead of taking the appropriate turn to our destination. More than one person has had to ask where I was taking them. Uh...

I'm checking Facebook, texting my friends, or reading the news and someone asks me a question. I nod my head in response...but I haven't really heard them, and am brought up short back to attention when they ask a follow-up question. What? What did you say? Facebook, iPad, Android--all consume and absorb my attention. Flow.

Start playing a computer game at 9 p.m. When I re-surface, it's 1 a.m. and while I'm going to regret the loss of sleep the next day, the flow experience has been worth it. I'll probably do it again and again, just as I stay up many nights reading an excellent book. (I think the flow experience is addictive.)

Mental processing during the flow of experience seems able to tune out auditory and visual cues which aren't part of what's being processed. Great for studying; not so great for driving.

So much temptation. So little time.

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