She meant slowing things down often classes them up


“My mother was always lavish with advice, little of it original…—“Count to 10 before you speak,” she frequently said, and she meant not just that you can’t take back what’s already been uttered. She meant that pauses are the spaces in which passions cool, civility gets its oxygen, and wisdom quite possibly finds its wings. She meant that slowing things down often classes them up….”

“What would she have made of the social media born long after she died? Of a world in which so many of us, entranced by the opportunity for instant expression and an immediate audience, post unformed thoughts, half-baked wit or splenetic reactions before we can even count to three?…I’m talking about a revved-up metabolism and roughened-up manners…That happens in part because the exchanges are disembodied: We don’t have to face whomever we’re lashing out at. But it’s also because they’re impulsive. Their timbre conforms to their tempo. Both are coarse…”

“Conversely, there was talk this year about the benefits of an activity that’s in some ways the antithesis of texting and tweeting with their rat-tat-tat rhythm. That activity is the reading of fiction. According to some researchers, people who settle into it are more empathetic — more attuned to what those around them think and feel — than people who don’t…”

“But I’d bet big on real reading, fiction or nonfiction, as a prompt for empathy and a whole lot more: coolheadedness, maybe even open-mindedness, definitely deliberation. It doesn’t just yank you outside of yourself, making you consider other viewpoints without allowing for the incessant interjection and exaltation of your own. It slackens the pace. Forces a pause.

“For more than two decades, there’s been a celebration of slow food. Over the last few years, we’ve proved receptive to slow TV. What we really need is slow debate. It would trade the sugary highs and lows of rapid-fire outrage for a more balanced diet. We’d be healthier. Probably happier, too…”

~ Frank Bruni.

For the entire NY Times article, click here: For 2014, Tweet Less, Read More

Frank Bruni Image Credit


  1. Amen.


  2. I agree…and I worry that so many young people who are born into this world of rapid fire exchanges, along with the coarseness of it all, will not ever know the enchantment of long and slow, empathetic and wise communication. I wish we could all step back and regain what we are losing.


  3. As a parent, grandparent, and author, it warms my heart to see articles encouraging reading and discussing some of the benefits of same. Mr. Bruni mentioned reading possibly opens minds. I agree that it can, but it can also close minds. The topic reminds me of the saying that goes something along the lines of “Beware the man of one book.”


    • Russ, you insight reminds me of a quote by a smart man shared by Todd Lohenry:

      Reading after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.

      ~ Albert Einstein


  4. I agree with all those who have commented before me. And perhaps we need to do a better job of slowing things down a bit ourselves.


  5. That’s all so true about reading.


  6. There is so much wisdom here. I often find myself mourning the loss of civility in many of today’s communiques, and well as embracing the pleasures to be found when expressing oneself in MORE than 140 characters. The smartest, most thoughtful, most empathetic and insightful people I know are, in most instances, also the most well-read. I don’t think it’s a coincidence….


  7. This is very good. Agree with all the comments too.


  8. i had the pleasure of working with frank when he was the film critic for the detroit free press and i was a film publicist in the advertising business in the 90s. i found him to be fair, intelligent, well-read, thoughtful, and insightful. he was a natural writer and the antithesis of our critic from the rival daily, and i feel lucky for having crossed paths with him.


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