Four or five moments, that’s all it takes. To be a hero. Everyone thinks it’s a full-time job. Wake up a hero. Brush your teeth a hero. Go to work a hero. Not true. Over a lifetime, there are only four or five moments that really matter.
— Colossus, Deadpool
I love that quote, so much that I’m starting this post with it. You, as we all do, might think “I’m not that quick to judge someone. I weigh both the good and the bad.” — but that’s not how humans work.
Big groups of people tend to judge quickly. As a group we come to conclusions in the blink of an eye without taking into consideration all the factors, no hesitation whatsoever. Consider Twelve Angry Men. Consider Steve Bartman. We do it to people, and we do it to our tools, innocent inanimate objects.
And if you think you are different, think if this has ever happened to you before: “Sorry, I meant far not fat! F***ing autocorrect”.
Once again, your phone’s software has embarrassed you by incorrectly predicting the word you meant to type. What a betrayal! Yet after accurately correcting thousands of words, that mistake is the one we focus on, the one we remember.
When that happens in your daily life to things that are under your control, you have two choices: complain or fix them. But for some reason I see more people “hating” than doing something to change what’s broken — even if it’s not actually broken, only broken according to their standards.
Personally, I don’t even look at the keyboard when I write on my phone, I trust that any mistyped letters would be magically ok when I look at the message. And it works most of the times. So in reality it’s an amazing feature. But a couple of moments, screw that up completely and we consider autocorrect to be rubbish.
Four or five moments are all it takes to perceive an overall good, great, or amazing tool as a piece of crap.
Not even ten years ago most mobile phones had only twelve keys to type with. Mobile phones, not smartphones, because we hadn’t invented that word yet. And we typed. Often. And fast. It was amazing just the fact that you could message someone. That you didn’t have to call them at home. We used to have to call somewhere, not someone.
But now you don’t have reception at your favorite restaurant and everything is b***shit.
We get spoiled really fast.
Last month I flew from San Francisco to Dublin in eleven hours. Direct flight. Unimaginable only fifty years ago. But if my flight was thirty minutes delayed that would have been unacceptable. If you could afford to sail to America from Europe back in the day, it would take you weeks. On a boat. And you’d dock on the East Coast. Add the train west to the trip and then call your LA–NYC leg painful. A single moment marks and defines the whole experience. We decide to focus on the bad ones more often than not.
Because, hey! My smartphone — a computer a hundred times more powerful than the ones that we used to send people to the moon — just made me look stupid when it couldn’t correctly predict the word that I was thinking of.
I do confess, I have that feeling often. Although I build interfaces, sometimes I find myself disappointed by technology because it’s not doing what I want it to do. But I am lucky enough to work in an industry where people invent new technologies, and I help fix those little mistakes. Working in the shadows. Improving things for the idle minded. All so you can order your venti caramel Frappuccino, with whip, while checking your tasks for today as you receive a lovely picture from your mom of her Dachshund dressed as a cowboy and a notification that your next meeting has been cancelled.
What’s the angle? Where’s the benefit in here? When something is bad, we try to improve it. As long as somebody experiences moments of crappiness in the tools they use, we will have roads for improvement and will keep pushing forward what technology can do for us.
Pessimists will see bad experiences. Optimists will see opportunities.