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January 12, 2006

Blink

I’m finally reading the book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.

I know I’m about a year behind the curve in discussing this title, but I’m somewhat stingy about spending money on books, and Carmel Valley is a very small town. It sometimes takes quite a while for our 1,000-square-foot library to have popular titles available.

I’m still 7th on the wait list for The World Is Flat, and it may be another year before I see 1776.

Anyway, I’m tearing through the book in hopes of validating one my most prevalent (and in my wife’s opinion, one of my most annoying) social behaviors: my tendency to make snap judgments about whether or not I like things, and my indifference to supporting such judgments with substantive information.

That’s the whole premise of Blink (subtitled The Power of Thinking Without Thinking) – that making quick, instinctive decisions is not only natural, but it usually proves even more effective than deliberate, contemplative decision-making.

I’ve been making blink decisions for years. In fact, it was a blink decision that got me into running. Sitting on the couch at my girlfriend’s apartment while watching the Los Angeles Marathon for the first time, I immediately thought to myself, “I’m going to do that.”

One year later, I was on the start line, and my marathon career was born.

The thing my wife hates the most is that I make blink decisions with people. I can typically decide within a few minutes whether or not a new person I’m talking to is someone I will grow to like, or someone I will avoid spending time with in the future.

For all these years, I thought I my blink decisions were a character flaw - like I was cursed with this oddball trait that enables me to pick out the psychopath chicks on The Bachelor just by the way they step out of the limo, by the way they introduce themselves, or they way they say “I’m in my reproductive phase – give me a damn rose!” (OK, that last one was easy – but you get the idea.)

So it’s comforting to learn that may not in fact be the case. And you can appreciate my haste to get my hands on this particular book.

Here’s how the premise is applicable to this space: I’m a blink-blogger, also. Have been ever since I started.

Whenever I come across a new blog, I typically decide whether or not I’ll enjoy it before I finish reading the current post. I’ll frequently put someone’s blog on my subscription service after just one reading, or I’ll purposely stay away based on that first impression formed within about 30 seconds.

So far, it’s been a reliable method. Most of my favorite blogs are those that I immediately connected with. Plus, given the enormous volume of blogs out there (Any estimates on this? Are there 100,000? A half-million? I’d be interested to find out), any process of elimination to separate the wheat from the chaff of cyberspace is certainly welcome.

Finally, here’s my outward seal of approval: if I’ve ever commented on your blog, you’ve passed the blink test. There are a handful of other blogs that have passed the blink test too, but I just haven’t gotten around to commenting yet.

A similar standard could be applied to my own blog as well. For those of you who make reasoned, contemplative decisions, just know that I’m really not that multi-dimensional. If you haven’t found what you’re looking for here by now, you’re most likely not going to.

On the other hand, if you are someone like me who makes blink decisions, you’ve probably decided by this point whether or not you like it, so I won’t try to convince you otherwise.

5 comments:

Kim 1/12/06, 3:05 PM  

YAY! I passed the blink test. LOL. And just for the record...I'm sooo done with the reproductive phase. :) What was up with her?

Anne 1/12/06, 3:05 PM  

As someone who has passed your blink-blog assessment, I find your application of Gladwell's principles most interesting. I read the book last year and have returned to it several times since to affirm some observation or another. II also remember last spring wanting to blog about it and then POOF! I'd moved on to something else instead, which must mean my ideas tend to disappear in the blink of an eye now.

susie 1/12/06, 3:30 PM  

I read (actually listened to) this last summer on my long training runs. I was fascinated by his examples--support for his theory. I blogged about it briefly, thinking, yes--there's truth to this.

stronger 1/12/06, 3:38 PM  

You had me at Candyland! It was the first post I read.

The key is finding the blogs that make you blink frequently and yours in one of them.

Joyce 1/13/06, 9:13 PM  

sounds like a book i should read!

i hope you get you others in soon :)

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