RIP: The... Pause

Today's tech lets you e-mail and text faster than ever, from anywhere--even if you really, really shouldn't.

Back in the old days--last week, before I got my iPad--my morning routine consisted of caffeine, meditation, a little yoga, and then firing up my laptop. I did the other stuff before logging onto the Matrix because it took too long for the computer to boot up--around a minute.

This morning, I shopped for a keyboard stand for my new iPal, learned how to use Pages, and e-mailed an animated love story involving octopi to my dad, all while my eyelids were still at half-mast. Why? Because my tablet is so fast, I was able to do it all right NOW.

Technology was supposed to make our lives easier and even richer in some sense, but today's tech is really about [insert snap of fingers] NOW. Like, right now, to the point where now is actually too late. Think I'm exaggerating? Stop me if you've ever waited patiently for a response to your e-mail or text, if you've said, "Maybe he's busy, or out to lunch." Out to lunch, in the bathroom--we're wired everywhere we go so we don't miss what's happening NOW. (What is Twitter but NOW? More than 140 characters means precious time's a-wasting.)

NOW is great for news and major business deals, but we're not all witnessing coups or hedging billion-dollar funds. More often than not our must-have-now conversations are, "Yeah, chili's fine for dinner; see you in five minutes." And that's if you're engaging in that antiquated form of communication known as "talking," which tks much lngr thn txtg.

Texting and 3G access took "faster" and turned it into NOW. Along with paper, pens, good ol' hardcover books (remember them? Sigh), this-- . . . --the pause between thought and action, is extinct. Over. So 2000-and-late.

We used to say "Time is money," and faster tech was supposed to save us time. What it gave us instead was immediacy bordering on urgency; the future is now, and anything that's happening now is taking too long. While you're tweeting about an event, the woman next to you already did.

So what's the big deal about the pause? Who's going to miss those three little dots? No one, though we should. Pauses allowed people to communicate more skillfully, perhaps less harmfully. These days, the only people who haven't sent career-burning e-mails are in nursing homes. (Here's mine. What if a politician just took a moment--a lifetime, in tech time--to think about whether sending that photo of his johnson to an intern was such a good idea? With today's tech, that e-male can be sent faster than it took to write that cautionary sentence. The pause may be gone, but technical regret--e-morse--has a longer life. A whole week, maybe, in this world of NOW.

I was going to say more about this, but my iPad just beeped about something I have to do right now. Which means I'm already late.