Edit/Undone – Part 1
Disclaimer: This week’s topic proved to be more complicated (and perhaps, contentious), than it first seemed, so we are trying something different; we are adopting a multi-post format, soliciting different perspectives on this issue. Read, comment, and check back next week for Edit/Undone, part two.
Where most of my entries have revolved around the retail or marketing side of technology, I wanted to offer some insight into how I believe the younger generation has been affected by what is now a simplified, easily corrected world. The Edit/Undo phenomenon applies (I believe) to life, work, and the retail environment.
I’ll go back a few years first, explaining the way things were when baby boomers were growing up.
If you had an essay due for school, you had multiple pieces of fools cap at the ready. You first wrote out a plan of the opening, body and closing, and the arguments or points that you would be covering. Then you drafted your piece on piles of paper, getting a pretty good sense of the wording. Then you would take a red pen, and make notes all over it. Then you rewrite it, hoping not to make an error. Then you write it again; recognizing that you made errors. Then you write it again, because your mother recognized that you used an arrow to insert a missing word.
And so – more often than not – you ended up with a stunning four page, hand-written essay that took only four days to create. And there were a couple of errors.
And you wrote it again.
That same piece today would take half an hour to construct. And therein lies the cultural shift as it relates to communications, life, retail, and all things everything.
The fact that every refined piece of work had attached to it an attention to detail and a show of caution ultimately translated into more caution and concentration in daily life. If you make a mistake, you pay for it with a consequence that required reapplying the same effort to get back to where you needed to be. Because of the entrenched notion in the back of our heads that reminded us that we can’t just erase something, everyone worked more diligently. On everything. For school. At work. In our social lives.
There was no such thing as erasing. No option to simply delete the parts we didn’t like.
Today’s younger generation grew up with the mighty “Edit/Undo”. You start smashing words on paper, highlighting, erasing, cutting and pasting, inserting things into a downloaded template that auto-corrects your format. It fixes your spelling errors and grammar. And if – out of a lapse in concentration – you accidentally erase entire sections on which you have worked incredibly hard… you have an endless supply of Get Out of Jail Free cards.
And it’s fixed.
There is no such thing as a true mistake for this generation. There are only temporary problems to which there are very quick fixes.
This has carried over, it seems, to every aspect of their lives, including their careers.