Humans are not instant—so why is all of our technology?

By Dmitry Minkovsky Nov 15, 2021

Humanity’s relationship with technology is fraught, and our attempts to improve it have mostly failed. This is because we have a narrow view of technology that conflicts with our humanity. While we all agree that technology should be a tool that makes our lives better, all too often it is humanity that adapts to tech, instead of the other way around. A prime example of this is instantaneity.

Instantaneity is one of the defining features of the Internet. When it first appeared, it felt magical. But a lot has changed since then. Today, with the exception of in-person interaction, people communicate almost exclusively online, and all of that communication is instant. Whereas it was once novel, today instantaneity holds a monopoly over how we can communicate. And like all monopolies, this limits our freedoms and our opportunities. That the ubiquity of instantaneity has never been challenged is fair—nobody wants to be laughed out of a room. But challenge it we must.

The simple fact is that humans are not instant. We are periodic, rhythmic creatures. Our biochemistries are closely linked to the rising and the setting of the sun. To be at our best, we need time to process our experiences and our emotions. To create meaningful work, we need space to focus our attention. Yet, at every step, ubiquitous instantaneity stands in our way. It demands that if we are to communicate, it must be as though everything were urgent. But many things are not urgent and gain nothing by being sent instantly.

On the contrary, forced instantaneity means that we pop into people’s lives, and other people pop into our lives—people we may love and want to stay connected with—at arbitrary, often inconvenient times, when we can’t give them the attention they deserve. Forced instantaneity means that we must constantly figure out what to handle now and what can be handled later. It means that if we don’t respond immediately, we often don’t respond at all. The cognitive and emotional load that this creates can be enormous.

Pony helps solve these problems by giving us a way to communicate online that isn’t instant. It is a quiet, steady place where you can focus without new messages arriving, without the pressure to hit “send.” In fact, Pony has no “send” button. When you finish composing a message, you put it in your outbox. Once a day, Pony will pick up your messages and deliver anything new that has arrived. The result is a sanctuary from ephemera and noise, where you can have lasting, thoughtful correspondence.

Pony isn’t “low tech.” It’s high tech designed for things that are not urgent. Our goal is to create structure where it is missing. Our mission is to elevate your correspondence and to foster deep connections.

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About the Author
Dmitry is a software developer and is the creator of Pony. He lives in Maryland with his wife Rachel and son Jack.