"controlling immediacy is massively important or we could pretty much exist and expire almost side by side if we take this thinking to its logical conclusion." [Charles Frith in response to a remark by Mike Rohde via 'Cross the Breeze.]
I've been reflecting upon that comment globally - the impact that immediacy has on work and life, for example.
1. You get to the office, boot up your computer and you are assailed by several messages that demand immediate attention.
Now just because the tool and the delivery allow those messages to arrive to you quickly, does it mean that they are important? Stay with me here, I'm not being literal. Are they all of the same import? Does sending an email with an exclamation point command that someone drop everything and attend to your needs or those of that request?
I've had instances when the fact that you were sent an email on a certain date, at a certain time, meant you had accepted to work on something - job done by the sender, no follow up required. Up to you to figure out what else you need.
Is fast email deserving of attention if it's not brief, to the point, well written, considerate, an interruption? Maybe there is no expectation dictated by others, maybe it's self imposed. Why? Is it because you want to keep up? With whom, for what?
2. You attend an event like SxSWi - everyone is going to be there, see and be seen. You don't want to miss anything. And if you say that's not the case too loudly, thou protest too much.
Why? Because everyone is meeting, greeting, connecting, documenting, seeing and being seen, as much as possible. Ok, maybe there is also another element at play here besides our desire to follow the crowd, to be as cool as the coolest (do we still say cool? Is it in the same annals with douche bags? Thanks, Gary Vaynerchuk).
The other mechanism at play is that when we share expertise with others, when we record the fact that we know something for someone else to see it, we enhance our self-image. If you think about this, you will probably see another reason why social media is taking hold. More people are figuring out that it feels good to share.
So sharing with others may well be one out of both desire to follow the crown (herd trigger) and that to be seen as an expert (self-esteem trigger). Who wants to take that for a spin?
3.You lose the ability to wait, savor, be still, think through, listen, be patient, be understanding - be. There is this immediacy expectation that is almost impossible to resist. You have to do.
As a consequence, you're too busy to think through projects at work, approach buying decisions at home with a rush (although I'm pretty sure right now things have slowed down a lot), even how you spend your time looses perspective (this includes social media).
Think about the consequences of this point for making decisions. While placating the short term gratification beast, you may be playing Russian roulette with your long term welfare. Immediacy has its advantages, but it also creates diminishing returns. It depends on how you take it.
Marketing has many immediacy moments. The retail display by the cash register, the offer that comes with direct response, calls to action, FUD tactics (fear, uncertainty, doubt). They all capitalize on the fact that once you create an expectation, the gratification needs to follow. They say we buy for one of three reasons - love, hope, fear. Emotion lives in immediacy.
Is immediacy always within reach and never achieved? Is immediacy the future that is never present?
Maybe this is not what Charles intended to say, but it struck a chord, and I wanted to explore this conversation with you. What are some examples of immediacy in your life? Do you feel the need to control immediacy or do you feel controlled by its rush?
I'm grateful that Mike could slow us down enough to appreciate this moment - and his work.
[see all the sketches by Mike Rohde]