Why waiting was / is a good thing.
There was a time when the height of technological superiority was how slow the tape deck opened. The smooth, deliberate action hinted at a deeper level of sophistication and created a moment or two of heightened expectation.
All media was slow and on its own timetable, like TV programmes, magazines and newspapers, to consume them meant waiting for their delivery. These pauses in our consumption related directly to the increased intention to savour the outcome.
As we know, the cassette went on to become one of the first portable mediums which influenced a whole set of other disruptive technologies; minituarising hardware which would enable us all to eventually take our music, then media, and now, our online and networked world, with us.
Three decades later, nearly all media is now transient. Fleeting. Immediate. Skippable. Waiting times are mere milliseconds, and even then we guffaw at any buffering icons working to serve us another video of a kid falling off a piano or a cat running into a tree.
If we lose those quiet spaces, or fill them up with “content”, we will sacrifice something important not only in our selves but in our culture.
Nicholas Carr via the article ‘Is Google Making Us Stupid’
Maybe it’s nostalgia relating to being of a generation who knew that watching movies meant putting on a coat and getting out money and the house due to a trip to the cinema or the video store. Or when recording television programmes meant running up or down the stairs and pressing the record button when they were literally ‘on’. Or from the experience of having to wait up to ten or twenty minutes for games to be loaded into my ZX Spectrum etc.
These delays were inherent. Built in. Welcomed even. There was space. Time. Time to create. Reflect. Be.
Technology has decreased patience along with the capacity to accept any empty length of time as a positive factor in the equation of the experience—waiting simply creates another opportunity to gaze into another screen and skip again. Our whole media interaction to the world has become skippable but what have we lost in those moments? What is the cost?
Social media (the industry I gave up this year after being in it for over a decade) has become diluted with “experts” throwing around words like connection, transparency, authenticity, engagement, but there’s fewer voices championing trusting the consumer with making balanced choices, framing content which situates us into the now and championing taking time offline or with others.
This isn’t a one way deluge. We produce more than ever before. We are saturating each other with our requests for attention and validation that our meal or view or opinion means something beyond our own experience of it. The cloud has given us immediacy although it only fogs our view to the importance of discernment. Of choosing better.
All brands and organisations care about is eyeballs. Attention. But it’s the lingering that matters. That’s where the impact is. The video or blog post which creates space and reflection are the ones folks remember.
It’s time to take time back again. To focus on the pauses. To stop hurrying and start living in the conscious(ly created) delays. To start appreciating the slow openers again.