Why I Wrote this Piece without Pressing Backspace


This post is an experiment, and an important thought on how our nervous systems, behavior, and even communication styles have been disrupted by self-editing, self-doubt, self consciousness, and even the all-powerful “delete” button. This is a one-take post. There are huge advantages to making this in one take (over time), but also big disadvantages (felt right now), as you will soon discover while reading. In an effort to become a one-take person, something I hold in high value, I have decided to narrate this post using Dragon Dictate narration software. This also removes the common habit of constantly editing my thoughts, editing my work, and retyping as I go along.

Why would I do this? What is the value in this?

Let’s start with the inspiration…

I’ve always been a huge fan of hip-hop and spent the last 15 years enthralled with the culture, the music, and especially dance, a passion of mine. An interesting and unique fact about a prominent artist, Jay-Z, (maybe you have heard of him…) is that he is notorious for recording his songs in one take when producing his albums in the studio. This was incredibly interesting to me. How much focus and practice must have gone into his craft for him to execute on the level to where he can knock out “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” with super producer Timbaland in one take? How much clarity of thought and dedicated focus to memorizing inflections, intonation, and emotional punctuation is required for such a feat? He is a renowned businessman and superstar for good reason- he has an authentic, disciplined, talented mind.

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Have you ever met a person who didn’t seem like they had to practice being themselves a million times at home before showing who they were socially? These confident and almost naturally improvisational personalities have a special aura and earn a genuine respect from those they impress upon. They not only mastered their content, posture, and demeanor, but most importantly their comfort in freely being who they are. A one take person shamelessly lifts their guard and bears their mind, ideas, and interests to the world.

Sadly these people are so rare in today’s world.

Today’s world is filled with people who compete with each other to not be themselves. It is jam-packed with people who trade joyful interaction and flexing their own design for the opportunity to compete and appear perfect. Our modern technology has progressed us in ways that are evidently positive, yet regressed our minds and access to our natural design. The more effort that goes into raising the bar on the level of quality regarding our lives and work through the use of complex tools, the harder it is for us to discipline and control a balanced state of mind.

The evolution of storytelling is a prime example:

Before external tools were used to tell stories, what did we use? Our mind for memory of specific details and ways to convey them through the use of our voice powerfully were most important. Naturally this would develop a mind ripened from concise thought and a confident vocal quality constantly being honed.

When quills met paper, or typewriters pressed ink into pages, the time and labor required for errors in conveying thought were much harsher. Patience and careful thought before execution was a huge necessity for efficiency. Though our voices perhaps began to suffer (who knows what other internal domino effect this creates) our minds were still sharpened by disciplined thought.

Enter the computer, marketing science, online tools, and the dreaded delete button of present day. All of these tools and concepts have unintentionally enslaved our ability to think freely and confidently, and communicate effectively. The high standards created by the information and data age have forced competition to drastically increase the complexity of execution. As an example, the delete button was introduced to quickly remove errors. The unintended consequence however, is that it’s so quick that it has trained our minds to not be adept at practicing quality checking our thoughts. The proof of this lies in a simple question- what was the ratio of removing printed words between the age of delete buttons and before?

I’m guessing there’s an incredible disparity. I honestly am close to hitting the delete button almost as much as the space button.

Years of observing speech patterns, habits, and execution between avid career computer users (lots of typing) and non-computer users (hardly any typing) have shown me that there is a great difference. This has nothing to do with introvertedness, body type, or any other social factor that could play into my conclusion, since I honestly met almost every type of person in both categories (obviously doesn’t include everyone).

A pattern emerged and trended showing me that the heavy computer users were often superfluous and redundantly verbose in speech, less effective with emotionally punctuating their language, and overall less confident sounding. To me, this subconsciously translated to inauthentic and less trusting as a listener, which was unintentional. Their honest confident voice could not escape, and instead they were trapped in their heads while their thoughts and voice publicized the inner conflict of what to say in a full display of nervous habits.

I am by no means a strong example of an authentic voice. It is my distinct awareness of my regression from a time when I had an authentic clarity of thought expressed into voice that led me to my conclusion. For this reason I have challenged myself to drastically reduce the use of the delete button on my keyboard and the delete button in my head. My remedy is to start with dictating instead of typing which forces me to flex my voice and also make me think before executing words. Hopefully this will set me on the path to finding my playful freedom, discipline, and execution of thought, leading to a more confident and genuine “one-take” me.

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