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That Damned Remote Control

I’m pretty sure it all began with the TV remote control—the first device that made it possible for us to do so much without lifting our now oversized asses out of the Lazyboy. The TV remote, the microwave oven, the Internet, and fast food. Oh, the fast food. McDonald’s has an average service time from order to pull away of 189 seconds. The legacy of our need for speed has been blamed for everything from divorce to diabetes, but the more compelling byproduct is we don’t have time for slow. Bore us and we’re outta here.

Shelby is one of our data analysts at Brand Buddha. She is originally from China and English is not her first language. In fact, it’s not her second language, either. It’s her third. We had a consultant working with our digital team recently who interviewed most of those on our data and analytics team. After hours I was discussing each of our people with the consultant and she mentioned, “Shelby is incredibly bright and thoughtful. It’s refreshing how she considers each thought before she verbalizes it.” Anyone who has learned a second (or third) language knows this phenomenon—listen, translate to mother tongue, process a response, translate, speak.

By contrast, I personally can be compulsive, emotional and, at times, irrational. Having something occasionally force a pause before I act would undoubtedly improve my personal and professional relationships a bit. 

In a way, you can already experience this today. A couple of years ago, Gmail introduced an option to “undo send.” This allows you to program an added delay to any message sent. Facebook rolled out something similar earlier this year. For some people, this should be mandatory. Imagine what Twitter and late-night texting would look like if people were forced to stare at their message for 60-seconds before it would be published.

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In fact, I wish more people thought about what they want to say at any moment. Imagine being part of a meeting that forced everyone to formulate their thoughts and take 60 seconds before they were allowed to say them out loud. It might be a glacially slow meeting, but I’m sure that what would be said would be a lot more constructive and useful.

Wishing for faster everything isn’t going to change; faster computers, faster download speeds, faster Amazon delivery. But, like fast food, we might one day conclude that slow thinking and decision making is actually better for us.

Now think about that for 60-seconds before you send me a response.

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