Home 2018 Collegiate Magazine Instant Gratification Culture

Instant Gratification Culture

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Austin Chastain live on Facebook. Illustration by Harrison DiCocco.

By Matt Meyle

Remember that time you sped past that car driving 54 mph in a 55, only to see them immediately behind you in your rear-view mirror, no more than 500 feet down the road at the next red light? What about the time your Instagram wouldn’t load the funny picture you were dying to show your friend because the WiFi was spotty, and you told your phone how worthless it was? Do you recall the time you told the automated voice how pointless it was while it listed the first five options that didn’t apply to you, and how much of a waste of time it is to talk to a recording? If that still doesn’t sound like anything you’ve ever experienced, my question then would be to you, are you wondering if I am ever going to stop asking questions? Does it seem like you are waiting forever to finally see the purpose behind of all these questions?

Life would be way too convenient if we always got what we wanted, everytime we wanted something. However, that doesn’t change the fact that we want it, and we want it now. We yearn for instant gratification.

We wanted the satisfaction of being in front of the person driving slow. We want to see the funny picture when we click on it. We might not even think it’s that funny, but it’s still infuriating when it won’t load on command. We want to tell the phone operator what the problem is rather than listening to the list of all of our potential issues. We want the gratification of fixing the problem now.

Patience used to be a character trait that was admired. Most people have heard the romanticized stories of a young couple saying goodbye to each other as the man is shipped off to war. The woman would declare her love and commitment to her lover, vowing to wait for him to come home. It seems as if today these stories are far and few. Are we sick of waiting or did the age of technology eliminate the need to learn patience?

Patience was once considered a virtue, but lately it seems to be becoming a lost art. We used to have to travel to the library to conduct research when we had a question about life, or we would have to consult an expert and wait until they were available to answer our questions. At the turn of the century, the technological revolution is in full force with no signs of slowing. We can now use our hand-held supercomputer at any given moment, to answer any of our questions. We don’t even have to write it down anymore. We can command our five inch long and two inch wide piece of glass that can recreate any given image to search the vast archives of all of mankind’s ideas which float around us in the air waves, telling us exactly what we want to know within seconds of asking it, and we don’t even think twice about it. The machine does the job it was created to do. When it fails, the device is then considered trash and is replaced by the next best thing. We forget just how far we’ve come.

Swipe right and you’re done. No more leaving the house. No more taking a step forward and then turning around because you’re too nervous to approach that fellow shopper who catches your eye. No more stumbling on your words, trying to think of the wittiest way to impress that cutie that you want to introduce yourself to. No more calling a landline and playing phone tag with an answering machine. No more random chances of running into your love interest. All you have to do is swipe right and you’ve got a potential one-night stand.

Apps like Tinder have removed the awkward barriers from face-to-face interaction. Everyone can hide behind a picture and wait for someone to “hit them up” for a night of “Netflix and chill.” Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook allow for people to show off how awesome their life is at any given moment. As people gain more followers, they have more people constantly bombarding them with approval or judgement. So long to the days of waiting to tell your friends about how eventful your week was. Everyone already knows everything about everyone so they might as well stare at their phones together rather than hanging out and talking.

We’ve created a culture that is fast-paced, and it’s constantly changing. In order to keep up, you can’t disconnect from it. Technology has resulted in a life of constant connection. There is almost no excuse for not getting back to someone within a few hours. Between smartphones, Apple watches, laptops and tablets, the majority of people are attached to these electronics for work, school and entertainment. Expectations have increased and the demand for productivity has risen along with it. Many employers, businessmen, students and other working professionals no longer just go to work and then go home. Work is never-ending for many. There’s no excuse for not being able to work from home, the airport or even a Little League Baseball game.

Not only have we become impatient due to wanting everything now, but we’ve become entitled as a result of getting everything in an instant. We demand that our food is free if service is slow. We scream at the TV during a championship game when a technical difficulty occurs and the video feed is altered or delayed. We can’t stand to get stuck in traffic on our way to work, when we completely disregard the person’s life at stake who just got t-boned causing the traffic jam. We can’t stand the little old lady who takes two minutes of our time while writing a check at the grocery store as her way of payment, rather than living in 2018 and using her phone for Apple Pay.

So next time you’re in line behind that elderly lady who is taking her time checking out at the grocery store, take a deep breath and realize not everything is worth getting worked up about. Take that time to text that friend you haven’t seen in month just to see how they are doing. Look at the world around you and appreciate the natural beauty and man-made marvels we shop in and the things we purchase. Utilize that time to schedule that doctor appointment you keep putting off or just stop and think about what you’re thankful for.

In a world of constant demands and new trends that are impossible to keep up with, take those moments to relax and reflect. If we slow down in that brief moment that life has provided for us to think, take that time to be thankful for how simple technology has made life. Stop seeking gratification in every instant, but instead, take that instant to express your gratitude.

 

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