Instant Gratification


Why is it as a society we seem to be suffering from a massive case of the need for instant gratification?

Obama has been in office for a year and people are upset that he hasn’t closed Guantanamo, gotten us out of Iraq and Afghanistan, fixed the economy, provided universal health care, secured world peace and given everyone a pony.  President Kennedy in 1961 said he was directing scientists to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade and everyone thought it was impossible.  The health care bill that was supposed to happen within a year was going to be taking way too long.

People walk into a restaurant and get told the wait is 15 minutes, then turn around and leave because they don’t want to wait that long.  They completely ignore that by the time they get to another restaurant and get a table they would have been seated and placed their order at the first one.

At stop lights we keep an eye on the light for the cross traffic and when it turns yellow we start to creep forward.  When the light does turn we stomp on the gas in order to quickly get to…the next stop light.  Stop signs we can’t even come to complete stops, we just roll right on through.

We have instant oatmeal that takes 30 seconds in the microwave when regular oatmeal takes only a couple minutes.  We buy boxed mixes to save 10 minutes in making a cake.  Waffles that take 20 minutes to make from scratch are made (poorly) to come out of the toaster in 5.  Pancakes can now come out of a can.

Stocks used to be purchased so that you would own a piece of a company you thought would be successful and thereby share in the profits (in the form of dividends) over the course of many years.  Now “increasing shareholder value” has become a mantra in corporate boardrooms everywhere.  “Increasing shareholder value” seems to translate more directly into “increasing stock prices” and not necessarily “increasing profits”.  We want to see our stock increase in value every single day.  We equate the Dow being up today as the economy doing well and if it’s down tomorrow we’re looking at a possible recession.

E-mail, instant messaging, and cell-phones are partially results of this need for instant gratification.  We need to be able to get in touch with people NOW.  It shouldn’t have to wait until we see them at home/the office/lunch on Saturday.

It seems like we used to be happy with progress towards goals, but now are satisfied with nothing less than immediate and complete success.  We used to be OK with baby steps, but now it simply isn’t enough.


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