Slow down!

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for davidstrom.jpgBy David Strom
Do you get the feeling that the pace of life is accelerating too quickly for you? I do. I think it all started with instant coffee and TV dinners. In the tech world, there was email because we couldn’t wait for telephone calls, or snail mail to be returned. (Don’t you just love that term? Talk about slow!) But that wasn’t fast enough, so we went to Instant Messages. But even those that take more than a few minutes to answer aren’t acceptable, and so now people text each other from their cell phones because they can’t wait until they are sitting in front of a computer.
We say that Web pages are called slow to load if they don’t appear onscreen in 20 seconds or so before we hit the reload key. And it was too hard to build Web sites from scratch, so we have WordPress et al. to make building blogs a snap. But even blogs are too much work, so we now have Twitter to send short bursts of information out to the world. Soon we will have nanoblogs, one-word missives that we can transmit to millions of people. Pity that we have become so pithy. The devil is in the details.

Videos that are longer than three minutes are too long to watch. We have Tivo and DVRs that can fast-forward automatically through commercials, because no one wants to watch them in real time anymore anyway – who has the time to wait for a program to start at the top of the hour? It seems so quaint now that was the only way we could all see “must-see TV” back in the day on our black and white sets that were encased in our cherrywood furniture.
We have video Skype calls for instant conferencing and impromptu meetings, even with people that are in the same office, because we can’t spend the time to get up from our cubicles and walk down the hall. Software “builds” used to be created weekly, then daily, now they are done hourly, and even that isn’t fast enough for the always-connected, hyper-broadband generation. It used to be enough to carry around a few megabytes on a flash drive, now we can take our entire digital repository and listen to music and videos too.
And don’t even get me started about social networks, or online dating, or even online breakups (I don’t need to know anything more about Jimmy Wales, puh-leeze!).
Maybe it is time to start slowing down. Take a few minutes to re-read that email before hitting the send key and regretting what you said in haste. Call someone on the phone in real time, and turn away from your screen when you are talking to him or her so they have your undivided, single-tasking attention. Interact with someone in your office by getting up out of your chair and visiting with them, not to waste time or shoot the breeze, but to get a reaction and some face-to-face feedback.