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Addicted to Speed: My Behavior in the Digital Age

In Digital Communications on May 22, 2012 at 8:51 pm

The digital era has made it so that the average human must process more information than ever before. The days when news traveled slowly through a few select sources (think: pre-Web 2.0) is over. I recently read an HBR blog post that approximately said: we’re so used to going fast, due to the ubiquity and high rate-exchange of information online, that we simply can’t slow down. (Unfortunately, I can’t remember the article this was featured in.)

This is a personality trait I struggle with, and I am not alone. I recently had this experience while sitting in the passenger seat of a car, while my friend was driving. The go fast mentality was in full-effect. She stopped at a yellow light, changing to red. I was impatient [and slightly frustrated] with her decision, because we were now stuck at a red light. Note: This is a good, safe decision. Why was I so perturbed? In part, I was feeling this way because it wasn’t my decision to stop, but I’m glad she did. I learned something about myself.

In haste, my first thought was: who likes being stuck at a red light? But it’s OK. I don’t need to be going fast all the time. Slowing down here and there has something to offer us too—just like going fast. Whether it is just to “veg-out” for a moment or to stop and think. It’s easy to forget this, especially when a lot of us spend most of our time online, bonding with each other via screen and keyboard. Conversational notes practiced with clicks and return strokes rather than punctuated voice are normal cues. The online world has become a regular experience and it’s easy for these experiences to permeate our behaviors in the physical landscape.

Our participation with each other via technology affects our participation in real-time face-to-face exchanges. You must remember, though, that you are in control of this. All it takes is to be mindful of your actions. I’ve noticed changes in my own behavior as well as others, particularly because of this blazing speed we’ve become accustomed to. Common symptoms to the speed addiction are: impatience, frustration, and sometimes anger. It’s not intentional and nor is everyone like this, but it happens. You don’t always need to go fast. Fast is nothing without slow, right? We’re dealing with issues of perception. In order to assess fast, we need slow. The same way we need to look at our behaviors in digital platforms and physical environments.

Remember this: The yellow lights are just as important as the green (going) and red (stopping) lights. They are a reminder that we have the will to make decisions and the time to think about them.

Do you have a moment to share where you blew a fuse or short-circuited? Share it below in the comments section of this post.


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