Despite its obvious defects, impulse thinking often prevails in the new world of instant communications. Believing that faster is better, journalists and political figures feel constant pressure to express themselves on anything and everything at the speed of a mouse click. The resulting commentary is long on reflex and short on reflection.
A shrill feedback cycle is at work: Hasty reactions to hasty reactions to hasty reactions. Without clearance from the State Department, a diplomat in Egypt rushes to tweet about an anti-Islam YouTube video. The Romney campaign rushes to attack the tweet. The Obama campaign rushes to criticize the Romney attack. Journalists rush to weigh the political consequences of the campaign exchange. For days, meanwhile, serious questions about terrorism and embassy security get too little attention.
Political polarization heats up when discourse moves faster than the speed of rational thought. Given a chance to consider an issue carefully, people may see the strengths and weaknesses of each side. But when they respond immediately, they will cheer for the home team and boo the opposition.