The Real Social Dilemma is… Wait For It…

Pete Sena
6 min readDec 7, 2020

Even if you haven’t, you can gather from the title that it’s about how destructive the mechanisms of digital interactions can be. As the New York Times points out, the film is “remarkably effective in sounding the alarm about the incursion of data mining and manipulative technology into our social lives and beyond.”

While I agree there are some nefarious implications in people’s personal lives, there’s a real dilemma that’s affecting our working lives, too.

The instant economy is rewiring our brains to think that everything is a click away. The easier it is to get our needs met, the more entitled we feel. We fail to see the hard work it takes to produce a quality experience.

Now, don’t get me wrong, AI and other technological advances power a potent speed-driven growth engine. It’s great that brands and businesses can save time, money, and resources while continuously evolving user experience.

But this also ends up giving people on both ends of the equation — from your staff to your clients — a built-in bias towards instant gratification.

To me, that is a serious existential threat to the fundamental tenets of quality branding, which include work ethic, craftsmanship, and patience.

It’s like that adage about the plumber who hits a pipe and charges you $300. You say, “$300 to hit a pipe?” And she replies, “Nope — a buck to hit the pipe and $299 to know where to hit it.”

The point is greatness is achievable, but it takes time and expertise to deliver real value.

The dilemma then becomes how to delay gratification long enough to do deep and meaningful work, but not so long as to compromise business prospects and performance.

Convenience is a Contagion

I love my Peloton bike. I click a button, choose from a ton of class options, and get my sweat on.

Now, I’ve been working out for over twenty years. Do I know my way around a gym? Could I figure out new routines that would work even better than what I see on the screen to meet my fitness goals? Would it be worth it to pay an expert trainer to help me take it all to the next level?

Pete Sena

I help founder-led businesses design demand 📈 ⚡️3X Founder / Operator / Investor | Ready to design demand for your brand? 👇