March 18 • 12:33 PM

Life is fast, faster, super-duper speedy

January 28, 2009
"It's here in an instant."

"I want it instantly."

"It comes with instant communication capabilities."

"It was gone in an instant."

Fast, faster, and faster still. When is really fast fast enough? And then is it ever fast enough? Should it be faster still? More instantaneous than instantly?

If this is giving you a headache, I apologize. But I won't take the full rap for it. Our ever increasing need to get things—messages, communications, information, funds, documents, reservations, whatever, is making our heads spin and revving up the pace at which we live, work, and even spend recreational time. I am beginning to suspect it is a velvet-lined trap.

I know there was life before technology. Generations existed, businesses were built, governments operated, babies were born and mankind progressed without the increasingly venerated ultra-high-tech gadgetry we've become increasingly reliant on.

I saw a television advertisement yesterday that scared me a little bit. A runner (probably a famous one) is on a track running a race and using a BlackBerrytm at the same time. He says "I'm fast, I'm really fast and now my BlackBerry's really fast too" or something like that. He's not really running and texting or whatever, whoever created the commercial pasted a pair of legs over his torso that are running at hyperspeed just to show how super fast he is. He proclaims that he now has the fastest Internet access, email capabilities, messaging, etc. For this, I suppose, I am happy. Happy for him if that's what he—and others—really want.

I recall the ancient dawning of fax machines. Yes, at the time I think that makes things quite fast, to be honest. I work at a law firm in Birmingham and suddenly offers are received and reviewed and clients get instant answers. Never mind that we're busy working on other cases when these 'must approve right now' offers etch their way through the fax machine. No matter the long list of return phone calls awaiting my boss's return from lunch. No. He must review at this instant this offer that is made now or never. Yes, that's fast. We learn to hate the muted sound of an incoming fax.

But alas, fast is not fast enough. The Internet arrives and with it all its access to information—never mind that much of it is erroneous, skewed, unreliable, etc. Much of it is good and helpful, and we want informat-ion and we want it now. And we communicate the information through a snazzy new thing called email. Anyone can get it, too, free via MSN's 'hotmail.' I remember the first time I see this in an email address. I'm not sure if it's a sexual allusion and soon learn that the moniker is really another way of saying it's fast, fast, fast—so fast it's smokin' and all that. And it is. It is an extremely fast way to communicate and take care of business. And the expect-ation of quick response, fast action steps up a notch.

Cell phones become widely accessible right about then, too. They're so common now that schoolkids have them. They're so nec-essary in our lives that most of us carry one 24/7. We use them a lot, too. Things that may normally wait until after work now take place whenever the phone rings. I suppose this is a good thing. More than once I'm stuck on the side of a road and am happy that I can make a phone call from the safety and warmth of my vehicle. More than once, though, I'm caught up in a weird, wild moment of injury and hurt and make crazy phone calls that I wouldn't 'dial' if I didn't have a phone right there on the passenger seat.

Today I learn that most younger people don't even call to communicate. They punch in a sentence (okay, a coded collection of letters and digits), press send and await a quick response. This happens in classrooms, movie theaters, doctor's offices, funeral homes, places where such communication would have previously been strictly off limits. All of this wonderful—and super speedy technology—has made this constant com-munication possible. Instantly. In an instant. Instant upon instant piling up, speeding us through the 21st Century.

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