Smart People Don’t Do Dumb Things In Seven Seconds

It’s said we judge the people around us within the first seven seconds of meeting them.I think something similar happens online. I don’t know what the scientific word is for this, but one image, video, or headline from a Twitter account can push us from 0 to 100 (real quick).

The speed from the time a visual is seen to the creation of a unique opinion about it happens with a spark of electricity from screen to neuron. A flash of light, and an opinion is born. It’s a remarkable capability. But it is also a Grecian achilles heel. It’s how outrage is created so quickly through social networks. It happens in those first few seconds of seeing that one “thing.” Someone no one will meet has made a dent in the universe, and they probably did it from a basement.

The rise of fake news has overtaken media.

So have the networks who mistakenly give it a platform.

The real problem, however, goes deeper. The real problem is the collapse in the number of people thinking critically. It’s almost as if everything online has also been reduced to seven seconds. Maybe we weren’t built to see a tweet and calmly articulate a meaningful take. Maybe we were built to see, and act. See, and react.

Seven seconds.

I’ve learned this lesson not through argument, or research, and not through political conflict. But instead, with my own money on the line. My worst investment decision ever happened because I reacted quickly to a piece of news that was not exactly true. This loss has become a lesson that I’ll never forget. It also sparked the long road of reworking my day-to-day intake of information. It’s a fight against an inherited gene that enables us to see, think, and react.

Everyone, at one point or another, searches for that one secret to succeed. Wake up earlier! Work more hours! Manage your calendar! All of this advice calls for people to do more with less time. Do more, to Be more, and Add more. But today, the opposite is true. While everything is speeding up, the real strength is in slowing down. Warren Buffett’s protege, Todd Combs, beautifully says he spends most of his day reading books and company financial statements. He’s in total control of his information flow. No single tweet would ever persuade him. He’s not looking to add more complexity to his day. Here’s what he said in his own words:

“I read about 12 hours a day. Our offices are like a library. So I read annual reports, conference call transcripts, etc. Most things are routine, mundane and obvious, but every once in a while you find something interesting worth digging into.” – Todd Combs

Our minds are extremely good at what they do. But sometimes being incredibly good at something leads to wreckless behavior and bravado. Others might prefer to say, “pride goeth before a fall.” When we form an opinion in seconds, it’s almost as if our mind is bragging. We are so good at forming an opinion in record time, now we’re just showing off.

See it, think it, react.

As information speed increases, as content creation increases, and deliverbility increases, the goal not only becomes consuming less, but more importantly, the need to reclaim what it means to be a ciritical thinker.

And to be a critical thinker, you need to think longer than seven seconds before making a judgement.

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If you missed it, here’s what I learned about the stock market in 2018.