Slowly typed words on 5G & time pressure
Category : philosophical musingsDate : Monday 15 April, 2019
With the 5G network on our doorstep, I recently began to wonder about speed in our life. The long-awaited 5G technology is meant to be 400 times faster than 4G, but perhaps there’s a price to pay — not only for the actual plan and necessary hardware accessories, but potentially in our health, since there are concerns about a substantial increase in involuntary exposure to electromagnetic radiation. These things are naturally subject to thorough studies and those worries might turn out to be baseless, but simply reading about these concerns got me wondering: why are we so obsessed with ultra-fast internet? Besides facilitating an uninterrupted stream of speed-sensitive data required for systems in self-driving-cars systems, traffic infrastructure or remote factories, all I can read about in the hype-fuelled nerdy articles is seamless music / film streaming, video game playing, or multi-way video-calling. And while I do admit that, like everyone else, I enjoy having a fast and reliable internet connection, I am concerned that the quest for speed makes us oblivious to potential downsides. And so I wonder: why does everything have to happen faster?
Some time ago, I was applying for a job and had to come in for an editor’s test. Despite the fact that writing comes naturally to me and I do it on a daily basis, I did poorly in the test. I was warned that it was not feasible to complete the test in the allocated hour and told to do as much as possible, but that didn’t help because the moment I felt the clock ticking, my brain went half-numb. I was frustrated but had to face it: I can’t write (or do anything that involves creating, for that matter) under pressure. Wherever speed plays an important role, that’s where I will inevitably fail. I am thorough and precise but I just don’t work fast. This test got me thinking though — why did we make “working under pressure” a desirable quality and bring it into virtually every work environment? As far as I’m concerned, the only place where this skill is truly necessary is a hospital and an ambulance. When it’s a matter of saving someone’s life, then speedy decision-making is crucial. But an office? Yes, ok, I get it: faster work means more products or service turnaround or whatever and that means more money. But when I read sloppily written articles full of typos and factual mistakes in mainstream press, I begin to wonder whom this pressure really serves. I can’t help but interpret a badly spelt text as a lack of respect towards the reader, which is why I do my best to proofread everything I write myself. But I realise I’m swimming against the tide here. While I agree that “done is better than perfect”, I see more instances of “done is better than acceptable”. There is a growing amount of everything, but it becomes increasingly harder to find quality, be it a piece of writing, a product or a service.
And just as I don’t really need my internet to be faster so that I won’t have to wait those 2 extra seconds for a webpage to load, I don’t want to work faster. I like to do things well and that requires time. I like having time for contemplation and analysis. Mindlessly producing words, orally or in writing, to fill a void as fast as possible, isn’t my style. I would like to see more employers who pay people to do a job well, not fast. Fast and well may have a place in a factory, but they don’t go together in a job that requires generating ideas, analysis, and finding solutions. Perhaps some people can handle the pressure more easily than others but the fact that there seems to be an expectation of fast performance everywhere is truly worrying.
It’s for this reason I don’t use same-day deliveries. I prefer to plan my shopping early and pay for the regular post, without being responsible for a bunch of miserable people running around like headless chickens in a retail warehouse. Why does everything have to be done today? I propose changing ASAP, the infuriating business cliché, to ASAIDW: As Soon As It’s Done Well.