Live from Pop!Tech: Questioning Our Slow Instincts and Speed Limits

A lot of what you hear at Pop!Tech sparks more questions than answers. So let’s start today with a couple of questions inspired by the morning session.

Why do we duck to avoid a screaming foul ball but not change our daily habits to save the planet?

Dan Gilbert, the author of Stumbling on Happiness, argued that as humans we’re hard-wired to respond to the most immediate threats. Our brains are essentially “out-of-the-way-machines,” programmed to duck to survive the here and now. With long-term or gradual threats, we’re oblivious, somehow unperturbed. “Scientists lament that global warming is happening so fast,” says Gilbert, “but global warming isn’t happening fast enough. It fails to trigger our alarm so we remain sleeping in a burning bed.”

How do you get in touch with your inner tortoise?

Speed yoga. Drive-through funerals. Al desko dining. Carl Honore, author of In Praise of Slowness, cited these latest examples of how our focus on speed is out of control and doing more damage than good. You see the backlash in the slow food movement, the slow email movement, the slow sex movement (in Italy, naturally). Slower is better, Honore says, but that doesn’t mean shunning technology and unplugging altogether. “You have to be fast now, but not fast all the time. It’s about slowing down at the right moments.”