The rise of technology today with smart phones, Internet, social networking and hundreds of media outlets has been in many ways incredibly positive. We can see this for ourselves, and has been thoroughly documented. However, a big downside of this increased information, access and speed has been to create a culture of microwaveable decisions in our personal lives and our politics.
We all can get answers fast, and we want answers fast. We text or email our friends and loved ones, and if we have to wait more than an hour, we get upset or start reading something into it. And they expect the same thing of us. We think we have to respond immediately to any communication or event because that is how technology works. And this creates a lack of space for thoughtfulness or deep consideration, and by seeking microwave responses we often miss out on what is really going on.
We don’t let people sit long enough with information or a feeling. We don’t them ponder for a bit and give them space to reach a measured decision. And when we want an instant answer from a loved one we often interrupt their growth and evolution. We don’t give them time to process through what is going on or what they are hearing or feeling so they can understand it. And the result many times is a bunker mentality of sticking to old ways because that feels the safest.
While food from a microwave may get us calories in a hurry, it isn’t often nourishing and is not usually a meal to be savored, enjoyed, and remembered. So too in our politics today. Because of the demands for quick turnarounds on communications (a term was even invented -- “rapid response”), we don’t give politicians or much anyone else a comfortable and secure space for deep thoughtfulness. We don’t allow leaders (or even personal partners) to evolve because we want engagement now and a response immediately.
I am hoping that each of us, including myself, can allow our leaders and our loved ones more space for thoughtful consideration. We set down our smartphones for a moment and allow people the time to get smarter in their own evolution. We used to give the freedom to our Presidential candidates for this room to grow. If you look back at Franklin Roosevelt or Abraham Lincoln, they would go from town to town and group to group, continually evolving their speeches and getting input from folks along the way. They didn’t have to have it perfect from day one. We allowed them to learn and evolve as they took time and input.
If we don’t give folks a bit of time and the power of considerate learning, we will likely only get back the predictable unsatisfying empty microwave result. I get the quick need of a Hot Pocket, but it certainly isn’t as gratifying and filling as a home-cooked Italian meal.
We must start giving other people this space, so that we feel the right to preserve that space for ourselves. I get some decisions in life, and by leaders, have to be made quickly, but those are few and far between. And if we haven’t given someone the slow time in many decisions to figure out the alignment of their values and actions, then when it comes time for the need for speed the likelihood of a bad decision increases dramatically.
I always loved the “Microwave” Vinnie Johnson, but his plays only worked in the context of a well thought out structure and team play. He played the game well in spurts because the entire team devoted time, energy and patience to create an evolving model that worked in those key moments.
There you have it.
Matthew Dowd is an ABC News analyst and special correspondent. Opinions expressed in this column do not reflect the views of ABC News.