Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Time and tide. And feedback.

Due to yesterday's snowstorm, which came, finally, about 12 hours after the all-too-cocky meteorologists said it would, about 75% of the agency seemed to be working from home.

That didn't stop, though I wish it had, the near constant accumulation of emails in my inbox. It seemed for hours at a time, the emails were piling up even faster than the snow.

It's not unusual among a skein of emails to get four or five or even seven or nine on a single topic. One might say, make the pixelator longer. Another might say, make the pixelator shorter. Still another might say, I'd get rid of the pixelator altogether and another might avoid mentioning the pixelator at all.

Earlier this week, I read an article in the "New York Times," called "
For Two Months, I Got My News From Print Newspapers. Here’s What I Learned." You can read the article here.

In the article, Farhad Manjoo goes cold turkey. He goes two months shutting off tweets, stopping text notifications, staying off social media. He spent two months getting his news only from print media, specifically the "Times," "The Wall Street Journal," and "The San Francisco Chronicle."

The point of his experiment, and the point of this post, isn't really about channel--the virtue of pixels over ink or vice-versa. What it's really about is the virtue of not "feeding back" a couple hundred times a day (as digital media does) and the relative measured-stateliness of media that publishes feedback just once-a-day.

Here's Manjoo's description of his cold-turkey experience:

"It has been 
life changing. Turning off the buzzing breaking-news machine I carry in my pocket was like unshackling myself from a monster who had me on speed dial, always ready to break into my day with half-baked bulletins.

"Now I am not just less anxious and less addicted to the news, I am more widely informed (though there are some blind spots). And I’m embarrassed about how much free time I have — in two months, I managed to read half a dozen books, took up pottery and (I think) became a more attentive husband and father."

In the context of our business--I often feel that one of the biggest causes of the qualitative decline of advertising (and the lives of those who toil in Madison Avenue's trenches) is the constant ping-attack of feedback. We no longer have three rounds of feedback, it often seems we have 300.

I wonder what would happen if we took a more temperate approach. That instead of saying what we thought in the exact moment, we took 24 hours and a walk around the block, and directed a measured response. 
By the way, about two months ago I jumped on the bandwagon of people who are saying smartphones are destroying our brains. I turned off all notifications and changed my screen to black and white. 

Doing so didn't cure my iPhone addiction, but I'd estimate I spend 33% less time on my device.


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